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- -•- J » 












By henry VIZETELLY. 

niQStraled with an exact representation of the Diamond Necklace, and a portrait of 
the GoonteflB de la Motte, engraved on steel. 





TO A. B, V. 





H. V. 


/ v/ // ri^ 

J./ r// Z^- 





The great scandal of the Diamond Necklace, which to 
the clear vision of Goethe presaged the coming Revolu- 
tion, and in which the quick-witted Talleyrand saw the 
overthrow of the French throne, possesses an interest 
akin to that of the French Revolution itsel£ The story 
is one of which the world does not seem to tire, for it has 
been told scores upon scores of times, and more or less 
recently, by historians, biographers, essayists, memoir- 
writers, anecdotists, novelists, and dramatists, and in well 
nigh every European language. In the form in which 
it appears in the Memorials and Judicial Examinations 
of the parties accused of complicity in the fraud, it has 
been pronounced "the greatest lie of the eighteenth 
century," and numerous active brains have essayed to 
unravel its tangled web of truth and falsehood ; never- 
theless, there are many persons who still think that 
a certain mystery envelops the transaction which all 
the research hitherto bestowed upon it has failed to 
satisfactorily clear up. 


The gi*eat scandal of the Diamond Necklace, which to 
the clear vision of Goethe presaged the coming Eevolu- 
tion, and in which the quick-witted Talleyrand saw the 
overthrow of the French throne, possesses an interest 
akin to that of the French Eevolution itself. The story 
is one of which the world does not seem to tire, for it has 
been told scores upon scores of times, and more or less 
recently, by historians, biographers, essayists, memoir- 
writers, anecdotists, novelists, and dramatists, and in well 
nigh every European language. In the form in which 
it appears in the Memorials and Judicial Examinations 
of the parties accused of complicity in the fraud, it has 
been pronounced "the greatest lie of the eighteenth 
century," and numerous active brains have essayed to 
unravel its tangled web of truth and falsehood ; never- 
theless, there are many persons who still think that 
a certain mystery envelops the transaction which all 
the research hitherto bestowed upon it has failed to 
satisfactorily clear up. 


The writer of the present work has diligently studied 
all the contemporary evidence, bearing in the smallest 
degree on the subject, which an active search enabled 
him to discover, and the bulk of which he has availed 
himself of in the course of the subjoined narrative. 
These include, for example, unpublished autograph 
letters and documents, written either by actual actors 
in the drama, or else by persons intimately associated 
with it, and derived chiefly from the valuable coUecticMi 
of M. Feuillet de Conches ; the official records of the 
judicial proceedings to which the affair gave rise; all 
the memorials put forth on behalf of the accused and 
the memoirs subsequently issued by them, including 
the exceedingly scarce Memoire by Eetaux de Villette, 
which the present writer is the first to quote from, and 
the curious Autobiography written in his old age by 
Count de la Motte ; the discussions in the Paris Parlia- 
ment ; and the numerous memoirs penned by persons 
living at the time, some of which, and these of the 
highest importance — such as the interesting Memoirs of 
Count Beugnot — ^having been only recently made public, 
have not been at the command of previous writers. In 
addition to the foregoing sources of information may be 
mentioned the different biographies, and the various cri- 
tical disquisitions of historians and essayists in which the 
subject has been so exceedingly fruitful, and of which' 
considerable use will be foimd to have been made. 


With such materials at his command, the writer has 
been able to tell the story for the first time in all its 
fulness, and as he believes approximating more closely 
to the truth, in small matters as well as large, than any 
previous narrative of the transaction. He conceives 
that he has completely exonerated the French queen 
fix)m the slightest suspicion of complicity in the miser- 
able fraud. He has made a poiot of supplying missing 
dates to the more trivial as well as to all the more 
important incidents, of vouching every statement of the 
smallest consequence, and of giving the very language 
of the witnesses to the various facts which they are 
called upon to prove. 

It is proper to mention, with regard to some few 
of the authorities referred to in the following pages, 
such as Madame Campan's and Weber's "Memoirs of 
Marie-Antoinette," Madame de la Motto's "Memoires 
Justificatife," and the "Memoire pour le Comte de 
Cagliostro," that the French and English versions of 
these works have been indiscriminately used, and that 
the references given, if they do not apply to the one, 
will be found to belong to the other edition of the works 
in question. 

Paris, Feb. 1867. 


Mtooire des joailliers Eohmer et Bassenge, du Aoiit 12, 1785. Paris, 

M^moire pour Louis-R^n^-Edouard de Rohan, cardinal, contre M. le 

Procureur-Gdn^ral, en presence de la dame de la Motte. Paris, 

Pifeces juStificatives pour M. le Cardinal de Rohan, declarations au- 

thentiques selon la forme Anglaise. Paris, 1786. 
Requite au parlement, les chambres assemblies, par M. le Cardinal 

de Rohan. Paris, 1786. 
Reflexions rapides pour M. le Cardinal de Rohan, sur le sommaire 

de la dame de la Motte. Paris, 1786. 

M^moire pour dame Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois, 6pouse du 

Comte de la Motte. Paris, 1786. 
R^ponse ]X)ur la Comtesse de Valois-Lamotte au Memoire du Comte 

Cagliostro. Paris, 1786. 
Sommaire pour la Comtesse de Valois-Lamotte accus6e, contre M. 

le Procureur-General, accusateur, en presence de M. le Cardinal 

de Rohan et autres co-accuses. Paris, 1786. 
M^moires justificatifs de la Comtesse de la Motte, dcrit par elle- 

m§me. London, 1789. 
Ditto, English translation. 

Memoire pour la demoiselle le Guay d'Oliva, fille mineure, emancipee 
d'age, accusee, contre M. le Procureur-G6neral. Paris, 1786. 


Seconds mdmoire et pieces justificatives, pour Mademoiselle le Guay 
d'Oliva. Paris, 1786. 

Requate pour le sieur Marc-Antoine Rdtaux de Villette, ancien 
gendarme, accuse, contre M. le Procureur-G^n^ral. Paris, 1786. 

Mtooire pour le Comte de Cagliostro, accus^, contre M. le Procu- 
reur-Gdndral, accusateur, en pre'sence de M. le Cardinal de Rohan, 
de la Comtesse de la Motte et autres, co-accusds. Paris, 1786. 

Requite au parlement, les chambres assemblies, pour lelComte 
de Cagliostro, signifi^e a M. le Procureur-G^n^ral, le 24 F^vrier, 
1786. Paris, 1786. 

M^moire pour le Comte de Cagliostro contre Maltre Chesnon fils et 
le Sieur de Launay. Paris, 1786. 

Memorial for the Count de Cagliostro. London, 1786. 

M^moire pour Jean-Charles-Vincent de Bette d'Etienville, bourgeois 
de Saint-Omer en Artois. Paris, 1786. 

Deuxi^me M^moire pour le sieur Jean-Charles- Vincent de Bette 
d'Etienville. Paris, 1786. 

Collection complete de tons les •Mdmoires qui ont paru dans la fa- 
meuse afEiEdre du Collier, avec toutes les pieces secretes qui y ont 
rapport et qui n'ont pas paru. Paris, 1786. 

Compte-rendu de ce qui s'est pass6 au parlement relativement k 
Tafifaire de M. le Cardinal de Rohan. , Paris, 1786. 

Jugement rendu par le parlement de Paris sur Pafifaire du Collier 
de diamants, avec le detail de ce qui s'est pass^ aux stances du 
parlement les 30 et 31 Mai, 1786, et les ordres du Roi apr^s le 
jugement. Paris, 1786. 

Archives de PEmpire. No. X' 2576. Procfes du Collier. 

Unpublished autograph letters and documents relative to the Dia- 
mond Necklace affair, in the collection of M. Feuillet de Conches. 

The Life of Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois, heretofore Countess de 

la Motte, written by herself. 2 vols. London, 1791. 
Authentic adventures of the Countess de la Motte. London, 1787. 


Mtooires In^ts du Comte de la Motte-Valois, publics d'apr^ le 
manuscrit autographe, par L. Lacour. Paris, 1858. 

Mdmoire historique des intrigues de la Cour et de ce qui s'est pass^ 
entre la Heine, le Comte d'Artois, le Cardinal de Eohan, Madame 
de Polignac, Madame de la Motte, Cagliostro, et MM. de Breteuil 
et de Vergennes, par Rdtaux de Villette. Venise, 1790. 

Mtooires pour servir a Thistoire des 6v6nements de la fin du 
XVIir siecle, par TAbb^ Georgel, vol. ii. Paris. 

Marie- Antoinette et le proems du Collier d'apr^s la proc^ure instruite 
devlmt le parlement de Paris, par E. Campardon, archiviste des 
archives de TEmpire. Paris, 1863. 

Mdmoires sur la vie priv6e de Marie-Antoinette, par Madame Cam- 
pan. 2 vols. London, 1823. 

Ditto, English translation. 

M^moires concemant Marie-Antoinette, B^ine de France, par J. 
Weber. 2 vols. London, 1805. 

Ditto, English translation. 

Histoire de Marie-Antoinette, par E. et J. de Goncourt. Paris, 

La Vraie Marie- Antoinette, par M. de Lescure. Paris. 

Maria-Theresia und Marie-Antoinette, von A. Ritter von Arneth. 
Paris und Wien, 1865. 

Lettres et documents in^dits de Louis XVI., Marie-Antoinette, 
et Madame Elisabeth, par M. Feuillet de Conches, 3 vols. 
Paris, 1864. 

Oorrespondance in^dite de Marie- Antoinette, par le Comte P. Vogt 
d'Hunolstein. Paris, 1864. 

Procte de Marie- Antoinette, ci-devant Heine des Frangais. Paris, 

Correspondance secrfete in^dite sur Louis XVI., Marie-Antoinette, 
la cour et la ville, de 1777 k 1792, publi^e d'apres les manuscrits 
de la Biblioth^que Imp^riale de Saint-Petersbourg, par M, de 
Lescure, 2 vols. Paris, 1866. 

Les demiers jours de Trianon, par M. Capefigue. Paris, 1866. 

M^moires du Comte Beugnot, ancien ministre, vol. i. Paris, 1866. 

M^moires de Mademoiselle Bertin. Paris. 


M^moires de If. le Baran de BeseoTAl, ^crit par Itd-mdme, toL iii. 

Paris, 1805. 
Mdmoirea de la Baronne d'Oberkirche, vol. L Paris, 1853. 
M^moires posthumes da Feld-Mar^hal Comte de Stedingk, par 

le Comte de Bjomsjema, yoL ilL Paris* 1844. 
Sonvenirs de la Marquise de Cr^ui, par le Ckmite de Coordiamps. 

Paris, 1834-5. 
M^moires secrets pour servir k I'histoire de la demi^re ann^ du riigne 

de Louis XVL, par A. F. Bertrand de Molleville, ministre dMtat a 

cette ^poch, voL ii. Londres et Paris, 1797. 
Mdmoires historiques et politiques du r^e de Louis XVL, par 

TAbb^ Soulavie, vol. vi. Paris, 1801. 
Histoire de la decadence de la monarchie Fran^aise, par TAbbd 

Soulavie, vol. iii. Paris, 1803. 
Anecdotes du r^gne de Loais XVI., oontenant tout ce qui oonoeme 

ce monarque, sa famille, et la Heine, etc., par M. Nougaret, vol. i. 

Paris, 1791. 
Ck)rrespondanoe secrete de la cour de Louis XVI. Paris. 
L'Histoire de France, pendant le XVIII* si^le, par C. Lacretelle, 

vol. vi. Paris, 1819. 
Louis XVI. par M. Alexandre Dumas, vol. iiL Paris, 1851. 
Louis XVL son administration et ses relations diplomatiques avec 

raiuope, par M. Capefigue, voL iii. Paris, 1844. 
The Journals and Correspondence of William, Lord Auckland, 

voL I London, 1860-2. 
Souvenirs de M. Berryer, doyen des avocats de Paris, de 1774 k 1833, 

vol ii. Paris, 1839. 
Mtooires sur les prisons de Paris sous Robespierre, vol. ii. Paris. 
Les Crimes de Marat et des autres ^gorgeurs, ou. Ma R&urrection, 

par P. A. L. Maton de la Varenne. Paris, 1795. 
Histoire de la Revolution Fran9aise, par M. Louis Blanc, vol. ii. 

The French Revolution, a history; by Thomas Carlyle. 3 vols. 

(Leipzig edition), 1851. 
Histoire monarchique et constitutionnelle de la Revolution Fran9aise, 

par Eugene Labaume, vol. ii. Paris, 1834. 


Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, by Thomas Carlyle, vol iv. 

(Art. — ^Diamond Necklace). London, 1857. 
Biographie Universelle (Articles — De Rohan and Cagliostro). 
Le Moniteur, No. 220. Paris, 1792. 
Morning Chronicle, Dec. 29, 1786. 
Journal de Paris, Nov. 12, 1831. 
Gentleman's Magazine, vol. Ixi. , London, 1791. 
Julie philosophe, ou le bon patriote, vol. ii. London. 
Histoire de Bar-sur-Aube, par L. Chevalier, Bar-sur-Aube, 1851. 
Essais historiques sur la ville de Bar-sur-Aube, publics d'aprfes un 

manuscrit in6dit portant la date de 1785, par J. F. G. Troyes, 

Letter from the Cur^ of Bar-sur-Aube, July 17, 1866. 
Saveme et ses environs, par C. G. Klein. Strasbourg, 1849. 
Histoire anecdotique des Rues de Versailles, par J. A. Le Roi. 

Versailles, 1854. 
Histoire du Bois de Boulogne, par J. Lobet. Paris, 1856. 





THE CAPITAL ..... 3 

in. mantua-maker's apprentice — pensioner under 



SOLD 19 





SOLD 78 







WHAT THIS means" .... 










SUR-AUBE • . , . 












PEWTER ...... 280 

QUEEN ...... 291 


THERE . ..... 300 

JErraium. — ^Bohmer and BaaBenge were not crown jeweUen during the 
reign of Louis XV. Bohmer was jeweller to the King of Poland and 
to Madame Dabarry, and it was owing to the latter ciicmnstance that 
the Older for the Diamond Neddaoe was confided to him. It was not 
ontQ early in the year 1785, dioiily after tiie perpetration of the Neck- 
lace frand, that he received throogh the instmmentality of Marie- 
Antoinette, who had preTionsly employed him, the appointment of 
jeweller to the French Crown. — See " Conespondance secrete in^te snr 
Louis XVL, Marie-Antoinette," etc, yoL i. p. 548. 


" Though the descendant of a king, I have been a beggar, a servant, a 

mantua-maker's apprentice, and the favourite of royalty The 

names of a great queen and of a prince-cardinal unhappily united with 
mine have spread a blaze around it to attract general notice ; and as if 
I was doomed to be the victim of painful splendour, the ingenuity of my 
enemies have found means to forge the chains of my dishonour out of a 
Diamond Necklace," — ** Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself*' 
vol. i. p. 267, and p. 6 of preface. 

*'Faites attention k ce miserable Collier, je ne serais nullement 
surpris qu'il renversM le trone." — Talleyrand to Chamfort. "Histoire 
Monarchique et Constitutionnelle de la B^volution Fran9aise," par 
E. Labaume, vol. ii p. 139. 

** I would caution them to despise those who, hacknied in systematic 
scandal, feast upon the bleeding reputations of their sisters mangled and 
torn by calumny ; let them demand of those who convey such vile 
insinuations some proof of the circumstances which they relate ; let 
them sift them thoroughly to the bottom ; let them inquire Hie character 
of the talC'hearer ; let them ask how, where, and when, and whether she 
knows the looman whom she has so eagerly aUempted to disgrace," — ** life 
of the Countess de la Motte, by herself^" voL ii p. 410. 





/^ PRANCE." 

Rather more than a century ago, in the year 1764, 
jnst as death had closed the career of the once all- 
powerful Madame de Pompadour, who had long since 
exhausted all her arts in vain endeavours to revive the 
jaded passions of her royal lover, and when the star of 
the notorious Dubarry was gaining the ascendant, as 
the Marquis and Marchioness de Boulainvilliers, at- 
tended by servants and outriders in the gayest of 
liveries, were returning in a carriage and four from 
their hotel at Paris to the chateau of Passy, of which 
pleasant village the marquis was seigneur, their atten- 
tion was attracted to a little girl about eight years of 
VOL. I, B 


age, clad in the beggar's accustomed livery — rags and 
tatters, who, carrying a younger sister on her back, ran 
beside the carriage, then proceeding up the hill at a 
slow pace, and appealed for charity after the following 
strange fashion: — "Kind lady and gentleman, pray 
take pity on two poor orphans descended from Henry 
the Second of Valois, King of France." 

The marchioness, struck by the singularity of this 
appeal, stopped the carriage and commenced ques- 
tioning the child, much to the annoyance of her hus- 
band, who petulantly remarked she ought to know well 
enough that it was a common trick of poverty to forge 
lies to excite compassion. The marchioness, however, 
persisted in her inquiries, and ascertained from the 
child whereabouts she lived, then, after promising to 
see into the truth of her statement and telling a servant 
to give her some few francs, the lady, greatly to the 
satisfaction of her impatient husband, gave directions 
for the carriage to proceed. 

The next day, in accordance with her promise, the 
marchioness despatched a trusty servant to the adjacent 
village of ChaiUot, where the children lodged. The 
people of the house, and the neighbours generally, 
confirmed, so far as they were able, the truth of the 
little beggar girl's story, which, as this partakes largely 
of the romantic and exercised an important influence on 
her subsequent career, we propose recounting in detail. 





For a couple of centuries there had resided at Bax-sur- 
Aube, in Champagne, certain Barons de Saint-Kemi, 
the first of whom was Henri de Saint-Eemi, an ille- 
gitimate son of Henri II. of Valois, King of France, 
lover of the beautiful Diana of Poitiers, and who had 
the ill luck to get killed at a tilting match by a lance 
thrust in his right eye, accidentally given him by the 
captain of his Scottish guards, the Count de Montgo- 
merie, ancestor of our Earls of Eglintoun. This son 
of his, Henri de Saint-Eemi, was, in heralds' language, 
" High and Puissant Lord and Knight, Baron and Seig- 
neur of the Manors of the Chatellier, Fontette, Noez 
and Beauvoir, Knight of the King's Order, Gentleman 
of the Bedchamber in ordinary. Colonel of a regiment 
of horse and a regiment of foot, and Governor of Cha- 
teau-Villain." In the course of a few generations, 
however, the Saint-Eemis appear to have fallen from 


their high estate, and their broad manors to have 
become entirely alienated from them, inasmuch as we 
find that Nicolas de Saint-Kemi, the great-grandson of 
the Henri before mentioned, instead of being styled 
" High and Puissant Lord and Knight, " and Seigneur 
of various extensive domains, and the holder of nume- 
rous oflSces about the person of the sovereign, was 
merely one of the king's body-guard in the Duke de 
Charost's company. He married the daughter of Nico- 
las-Fraupois de Vienne, a great man in the royal baili- 
wick of Bar-sur-Aube, and who seems at this period to 
have been the possessor of two of the Saint-Eemi 
manors, namely, Noez and Fontette. The children 
that sprung from this marriage were two sons, the 
elder of whom was slain in battle, and the younger, 
Jacques de Saint-Eemi, was father of the little beggar 
girl whom we found running beside the Boulainvilliers' 
carriage asking alms. 

Jacques de Saint-Eemi de Valois, in spite of his illus- 
trious descent, seems to have gradually sunk to the 
level of the peasant class, and the indigence to which 
he found himself reduced was aggravated by his im- 
prudently marrying a young girl with a pretty face, 
but of vulgar manners and somewhat loose morals, the 
daughter of his concierge at the time he had a house to 
shelter •him. The offspring of this union was a son 
and two daughters, born respectively in the years 
1755, 6, and 7, but small as his family was, Jacques 


de Saint-Remi seems to have been unable to support it. 
One who knew the family well describes the last of the 
barons of Saint-Remi as a man of athletic build, who 
lived partly by poaching and by depredations in the 
adjoining forest, partly by plundering his neighbours' 
fields, and partly on the charity of the benevolent.* 
The vast estates which formerly belonged to the now 
impoverished family had gradually dwindled away, 
some having been sold to meet the demands arising 
from the extravagance of successive owners, while others 
had passed into the hands of lawyers and money-lenders. 
At this period there nevertheless remained three do- 
mains of considerable extent, deeply encumbered, it is 
true, with debts, but which left open some real or fan- 
cied claim, which, although the beggared heir of the 
house of Valois had no means of enforcing it, was never^ 
theless the revery and abstraction of his life. A few 
sheets of musty parchment, the surviving title deeds of 
his house, the last wreck, so to speak, of the vast landed 
property of the Saint-Remis of Valois, these he kept 
carefully stowed- away under the straw thatch of his 
miserable hut. To pore at times over these old parch- 
ments was the one act of worldly vanity in which 
Jacques de Saint-Remi permitted himself to indulge, 
but the woman he had married was not so easily satis- 

♦ « M^moires da Comte Beugnot, ancien Ministre,'* (Paris, 1866,) 
vol. i. p. 7. 


fied. The continual display of these mysterious docu- 
ments kindled her ambition, until at length it was raised 
to such a pitch, that she prevailed on her husband to 
set out for Paris, there to endeavour to make interest 
among the great for the restoration of those rights 
to which as heir of the house of Valois she believed 
him to be entitled. 

After disposing of such few moveables as they pos- 
sessed, the vnretched family set forth and literally 
tramped up to the capital, a distance of nearly a 
hundred and fifty miles. That they might not be bur- 
thened on the way by their youngest child, then about 
three years old, the unnatural parents left it behind 
them, exposed on a window-sill of the house of one 
Durand, " a wealthy and avaricious farmer," to quote 
the eldest sister's own words, " who, being in possession 
of a great part of my father's estate, and having stood 
sponsor to this unfortunate in&nt, was therefore deemed 
the most proper person to be her future protector." * 

On their arrival in Paris, in a state of extreme desti- 
tution, the Saint-Kemi family shifted their place of 
residence from one suburb to another until they even- 
tually settled down at Boulogne, then but a small village 
on the banks of the Seine, opposite to St. Cloud. Here 
they lived upon such charity as the gentry of the neigh- 

* " Life of the Countess de la Mott^ by herself," (London, 1791,) 
vol. i. p. 7. 


bourhood, attracted by the singularity of their story, 
firom time to time bestowed upon them. The father at 
this period had fallen into a state of dotage, and the 
mother's pet idea of an appeal in high quarters for the 
restoration of the family estates had to be sacrificed to 
the powerful struggle which they were forced to undergo 
for their daily bread. Months thus passed away, until 
one day Jacques de Saint-Eemi, for some cause or 
other — ^most likely an unpaid baker's bill — ^was arrested 
by an officer of the marshalsea (mounted police) of 
Boulogne, and locked up in a loathsome cell, where he 
xemained for six weeks. Here the poor man contracted 
a serious illness, and on his release, which was brought 
Aout by the intervention of the cure of the parish, the 
only retreat which the efforts of his neighbours — for 
friends he had none — ^were enabled to provide for him 
— ^a descendant of the blood-royal of France — was a 
pallet in one of the wards of the Hotel Dieu. Here he 
died on February 16, 1762, a couple of days afterwards. 
. Within a few days of the death of Jacques de Saint- 
£emi his wife gave birth to another daughter, and as soon 
as she was recovered from her confinement, the family re- 
moved to Versailles, where the mother made a practice 
of sending the children into the streets to beg. Jeanne, 
the eldest daughter, and the heroine of our story, 
appears to have been treated with great harshness by 
her mother ; for unless the child brought home ten sotis 
on ordinary days, and double that amount on Sundays 


and fete days, as the fruits of her mendicity, she was 
subjected, she tells us, to the cruellest punishment. 
The mother had at this time fonned a disreputable con- 
nection with a discarded common soldier — one Jean- 
Baptiste Eaymond — a native of Sardinia, with whom 
mendicancy was a positive passion ; for, in disregard of 
the laws, he made it his daily practice to beg in the 
most public places of Paris, having with him the young 
Jacques de Saint-Kemi, and the family documents, 
which he boldly exhibited to the passers-by in support 
of a pretended claim which he himself set up to the 
honours of the house of Valois. Jean-Baptiste was 
arrested by the police time after time, for jplying his ne- 
farious trade with such marked audacity, and sentenced 
to various terms of imprisonment. He was, however, 
incorrigible, and the authorities at last determined upon 
getting rid of him, so they sent him to prison for a 
further term of fifteen days, and then ordered him to be 
exposed for four and twenty hours in the Place de Louis 
Quinze — subsequently the Place de la Kevolution, 
where for two years the guillotine did its bloody work, 
and now the handsome Place de la Concorde — with an 
inscription hung round his neck setting forth the nature 
of his imposture, together with copies of the titles he 
had falsely assumed. This public exhibition at an end, 
Jean-Baptiste Raymond was banished for five years ifrom 
the capital. 

When the day arrived for his departure, the unnatural 


mother of the young Saint-Eemis set out with her para- 
mour, leaving behind her three children, whom she 
promised to rejoin in eight days at the very outside, to 
shift for themselves. Five weeks, however, elapsed with- 
out any tidings of her, and it was at this particular 
moment when the poor children, deserted by their only 
remaining protector, and reduced almost to a state of 
starvation, had the good fortune to attract the notice of 
the kind-hearted Marchioness de Boulainvilliers. 




The Boulainvilliers' domestic, satisfied with the in- 
quiries he had made, directed the children to take 
leave of those kind neighbours who had so constantly 
befriended them, and then to come on to Passy, where 
they were to inquire for the chateau, which stood, by 
the way, on the precise spot where the pleasant 
** Hameau de Boulainvilliers" now stands. But few pre- 
parations being necessary for their departure, they were 
soon on their road, and reached the chateau in the course 
of the afternoon. Their arrival being announced, they 
were conducted "into a grand hall, in the centre of 
which rose a magnificent staircase richly ornamented 
with gold, where a large company of ladies and gentle- 
men were waiting to view them."* The marchioness 
descending to the middle of the staircase, asked young 
Jeanne whether she remembered her again, an inquiry 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 41. 

jeanot: and hee sister sent to school. 11 

which it is almost needless to say the child promptly 
answered in the afSnhative. 

The company having gratified their curiosity at a 
distance^ for no one dared venture into too close 
proximity with these wretched outcasts, covered as they 
were with rags and dirt, the marchioness gave orders 
for them to be cleansed, and for other clothes to be 
supplied them. A good scrubbing having brought to 
light indications of various diseases, the usual concomi- 
tants of poverty, steps were taken for their speedy eradi- 
cation ; and in the course of a few weeks, thanks to the 
attention they received, and to the generous food pro- 
vided them, all traces of their former wretched condition 
were effaced. 

The marchioness's next care was the education of the 
young orphans, and Jeanne and her sister were sent to 
a boarding-school in the neighbourhood, where they 
made rapid progress. In less than two years, however, 
the youngest girl died of the small-pox, at that time a 
disease not only very prevalent, but commonly fataL 
Jeanne remained at school for several years longer ; but 
during the latter period of her stay, her governess, she 
tells us, unknown to the marchioness (whom the young 
Saint-Eemi saw but rarely), compelled her to perform 
the common oflSces of a domestic servant. "This 
emplojrment," she observes, "against which it was use- 
less to remonstrate, was but ill-adapted to those elevated 
notions which reflections on my birth had inspired me 


with. Was it not," she asks, "painful to feel that, 
descended as I was from the first family in France, I 
was yet reduced to be a servant to people of the very 
lowest rank, nay, even to servants themselves?"* 

At length, at her own request, Jeanne was removed 
from school, and, with the view of placing her in a 
position to provide for herself (for the marquis, who 
was half a Jew — his mother being a daughter of 
Samuel Bernard, the rich Hebrew banker, whom even 
the " Grand Monarque " would condescend to take by 
the arm when he was hard up and wanted to coax a 
loan out of him, and whom the court ladies used to 
cheat at the queen's card-table — objected to her con- 
tinuing a pensioner on the Boulainvilliers' establish- 
ment), Jeanne was articled to a Parisian mantua-maker 
for a term of three years. Ill-health, however, com- 
pelled her to leave before completing the engagement, 
and she filled one situation after another, subject 
during the time to constant attacks of illness, until at 
length a change in the fortunes of the family made it no 
longer necessary for her to labour for her daily bread. 

The young Jacques de Saint-Eemi had received his 
education under the care of M. le Clerc, the hus- 
band of his sister Jeanne's governess, and, on its com- 
pletion, had been sent to sea. About this time he 
returned home from his first voyage, and the mar- 

♦ " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p, 47. 


chioness, having got together various documents in 
support of the claim of the family to the honours of 
the house of Valois, consulted with the Marquis de 
Chabert (the admiral under whom the young Saint- 
Kemi had recently served, and who had interested 
himself a good deal in the young sailor's history) as to 
the best course to be adopted to get their claim recog- 
nised at court. The marquis at once caused a genea- 
logical memorial of the family to be drawn up, which 
he transmitted with the necessary confirmatory docu- 
ments to his cousin, M. d'Hozier de Serigny, grand 
genealogist and judge-at-arms of the nobility of France, 
that the same might receive the sanction of his 

When this was returned to the marquis, accompanied 
by a certificate of M. d'Hozier's attesting its accuracy, 
the marquis forwarded the various documents to the 
proper quarter, and in due course obtained the appoint- 
ment of a day for the reception of young Saint-Remi by 
Louis XVI., who had only recently ascended the 
throne. The youth was introduced to the king as the 
Baron de Valois by the Marquis de Boulainvilliers, the 
Marquis de Chabert, the Count de Maurepas, and 
M. Necker. The king was pleased to recognise the 
title which the friends of the young Jacques de 
Saint-Eemi had persuaded him to assume, but desirous, 
it was believed, that this should become extinct in the 
person of its present possessor, recommended the 


newly-acknowledged Baron de Valois to devote himself 
to the service of the church.* Jacques respectfully 
ventured to suggest that his predilections were in 
favour of the army or the navy. The king thanked 
the young Saint-Remi for his inclination to serve him, 
but recommended him again, still more strongly, to 
dedicate his days to the service of his Maker. "Sire," 
replied the young man, with a sprinkling of blasphemy 
which only a Frenchman would have ventured on, " I 
am serving God when I am serving my king." t 

The members of the SaintrEemi family had now 
their several titles awarded them. Jacques, as we have 
already seen, was henceforth to be styled Baron de 
Valois ; his sister Jeanne was to be known as Maden\oi- 
selle de Valois ; and Marianne, the poor child who was 
left exposed outside Farmer Durand's window-sill, and 
who was now sent for to Paris, was for the future to be 
called Mademoiselle de Saint-Eemi. But as "fine 
words butter no parsneps," so empty honours will not 
suffice to keep the pot boiling. It was, therefore, 
imperative that the necessary steps should be taken to 
procure some sort of provision for these destitute off- 
springs of the blood-royal of France. It is true the 
national finances were in a most lamentable condition, 
still everybody agreed that something must be done, 

• Roman Catholic ecclesiastics not being permitted to marry, the 
title of course could not have been transmitted by descent, 
t "Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. L p. 87. 


which something finally resolved itself into a pension to 
each member of the family of Valois of eight hmidi*ed 
francs (thirty-two pounds sterling) per annum, com- 
mencing from December, 1775. In addition to this, 
through the intervention of M. Necker, the young 
Baron de Valois had a commission in the navy given 
him, with a grant of four thousand francs for his outfit, 
and shortly afterwards received orders to join his ship 
at Brest. 

We have already mentioned that Jeanne, or, as we 
must now style her, Mademoiselle de Valois, during the 
period she was toiling as a mantua-maker's apprentice, 
was subject to frequent attacks of illness. On these 
occasions it seems an apartment was set apart for her at 
the Hotel de Boulainvilliers, where every care was 
bestowed upon her until she was completely restored to 
health. During the period of her convalescence she 
was constantly persecuted by the marquis with atten- 
tions the object of which it was impossible to mistake. 
These advances, moreover, were subsequently renewed 
on every occasion that presented itself; in fact, when- 
ever mademoiselle found herself under the Boulain- 
villiers* roof; and if we can credit her own statement, 
more than one daring assault was made by the old 
reprobate upon her virtue. To rid herself of the mar- 
quis's importunities she was forced, she tells us, to com- 
plain to his wife, who decided upon taking the necessary 
steps to remove mademoiselle beyond the sphere of her 


husband's dangerous influence. She and her sister 
Marianne were accordingly sent as boarders to the 
abbey of Y^res, in the neighbourhood of Montgeron, 
some dozen miles or so from Paris, on the road to 
Lyons. Here, for a time, she pretends that she con- 
templated taking the veil, a resolution, however, which, 
if ever seriously entertained, was very soon abandoned. 

About this time the Marquis de Boulainvilliers was 

detected defrauding the excise by means of an extensive 

secret distillery which he carried on in some vaults 

beneath his Paris hoteL The discovery of this fraud 

caused, as might be supposed, considerable sensation 

among the hav/te noblesse, and neither the marquis nor 

the marchioness dared show themselves at court, and 

hardly even in the vicinity of the capital. They 

decided, therefore, to retire for a time to their chateau 

at Montgeron, no great distance from the abbey of 

Yeres, and, as a matter of course, the sisters Valois 

were invited to spend the holidays with them. At the 

chateau they would probably have continued to remain 

had not the marquis renewed his system of persecution. 

It is, however, tolerably certain that something very 

like encouragement was given to him by Mademoiselle 

de Valois, for the pair were surprised one day in a 

somewhat equivocal situation by the Marquis de Bran- 

cas and the Abbe Tacher, and although the lady in her 

" Memoirs " has the efirontery to speak of " the blush of 

conscious innocence which coloured her cheek " on this 



occasion, the result was that she was packed off by the 
marchioness to the well-known abbey of Longchamp, 
near Paris — of course, as she says, at her own earnest 
entreaty. Of this once handsome pile of conventual 
buildings, all that has survived the fury of the revo- 
lutionists of 1793,^ is a round ivy-mantled tower and 
an adjacent windmill, both familiar objects at the pre- 
sent time in this favourite locality. In the days of St. 
Vincent de Paul, the disorders which reigned in the 
abbey of Longchamp were such as to call forth severe 
animadversions from this earnest and conscientious 
priest, and even when the sisters Valois entered it as 
boarders, the discipline was inclined to be lax ; never- 
theless the marquis made so many morning calls that the 
other boarders were scandalized at his constant visits, and 
the abbess was constrained to give orders that no gentle- 
man should be allowed to visit Mademoiselle de Valois 
on any pretence whatever. At this abbey the sisters 
remained for about a year, only quitting it, say they, 
on the death of the abbess. Other accounts state that 
they left the convent surreptitiously early one morning, 
carrying with them a very light bundle, and with 
thirty-six francs jingling in their pockets, and that their 
departure was owing to the pertinacity of the abbess 
pressing them to embrace a religious life, a course to 
which the young ladies, who were by this time suflS- 
ciently partial to worldly vanities, were by no means 
VOL. L c 


inclined.* The abbess is supposed to have received her 
instructions from high quarters, and it is further sug- 
gested that the object of them was the gradual extinc- 
tion of the race of the Valois, together with all their 
troublesome claims. 

* " M^moircs du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 9. 





While our heroine was being initiated into the myste- 
ries of mantua-making by the most distinguished of 
Parisian modistes, the "chains of her dishonour," as 
she styles them,* were unknown to her being forged in 
the form of a Diamond Necklace, such as the world 
never saw before, and the like of wliich it can hardly 
hope to look upon again. Here is a description, penned 
by a master-hand, of this regal jewel, this unique gem, 
long an object of desire with queens and women, which 
caused a nine months' convulsion of the world of Paris, 
and the remarkable story connected with which was 
for a time the talk of every city in Europe, and the 
mystery enveloping wliich is thought by many to be 
hardly cleared up even now. " A row of seventeen glorious 
diamonds, as large almost as filberts, encircle, not 
too tightly, the neck a first time. Looser, gracefully 
fastened thrice to these, a three-wreathed festoon and 
pendants enough (simple pear-shaped multiple star- 
shaped or clustering amorphous) encircle it, enwreath 

♦ See Extracts from the Countess's Life facing page 1 of the 
present volume. 


it a second time. Loosest of all, softly flowing round- 
from behind in priceless catenary, rush down two broad 
threefold rows ; seem to knot thems'elves, round a very 
queen of diamonds, on the bosom ; then rush on, again 
separated, as if there were length in plenty ; the very 
tassels of them were a fortune for some men. And 
now, lastly, two other inexpressible threefold rows, also 
with their tassels, will, when the Necklace is on and 
clasped, unite themselves behind into a doubly inex- 
pressible sixfold row ; and so stream down, together or 
asunder, over the hind neck, — ^we may fancy like lam- 
bent zodiacal or Aurora-Borealis fire." * 

This matchless jewel had its origin in a freak of 
Louis XV., the " Well-Beloved," as he was endearingly 
called at the early part of his reign, whose infatuation 
in later years for the notorious Countess Dubarry led 
him into all kinds of extravagance, and caused him to 
dissipate with more than his accustomed recklessness the 
already seriously impaired revenues of the State, We 
learn from the Abbe Soulavie that, during the last six- 
teen months of the " Well-Beloved's " reign, the sum of 
two million four hundred and fifty thousand francs, or 
nearly one hundred thousand poimds sterling — a far 
larger sum in those days, be it remembered, than at the 
present time — was paid out of the royal exchequer in 
hard cash to this one favourite alone. And to satisfy 

* Carlyle's "Critical aud Miscellaneous Essays," vol. iv. p. 9. 
See also Appendix to the present work. 


US that his statement is accurate, the abbe famishes us 
his authority, and gives the details of the eight several 
instalments of which the grand total is composed.* 
This, it should be borne in mind, was entirely inde-» 
pendent of all manner of royal grants and gifts of 
places and houses and lands, which had been flung, 
whenever asked for, into the lap of this frail beauty. 
Startling as this example of royal prodigality in the 
days of the decadence of the French monarchy may 
appear, it is nevertheless indisputable that the in- 
fatuated libertine who then controlled the destinies 
of France, by no means wanted the will to urge him 
on to still wilder schemes of extravagance. For in- 
stance, on one occasion, whilst visiting with his archi- 
tect the costly pavilion of Louyeciennes, lately erected 
for Madame Dubarry, he expressed his regret that he 
could not present her with a palace constructed entirely 
of gold and precious stones. Unable to realize this 
extravagant whim he resolved to bestow upon his mis- 
tress the most costly set of diamonds which could 
be collected throughout Europe. The result was the 
world-renowned Diamond Necklace.! 

Louis XV. gave the commission to the crown jewellers, 
Bohmer and Bassenge, who entered heart and soul into 

♦ " Histoire de la Decadence de la Monarchie Fran9aise," par I'Abb^ 
Soulavie, vol iii. p. 330. 

t ** M^moires Historiques et Politiques du rfegne de Louis XVI.'* 
par TAbb^ Soulavici vol. iii. p. 71. 


the undertaking. The execution of so rare an order 
was of course an aflfair of time. Not only had the jewel- 
lers to raise funds to enable them to secure the largest 
and finest diamonds that were in the market, but they 
had to hunt out and employ the most skilful lapidaries 
to fashion them to their several shapes. Every import- 
ant city in Europe, and others far more remote, were 
ransacked to collect these matchless gems. Some of 
the finest were met with in Germany, others in Spain, 
others again in Kussia, a few in Brazil, and a very fibe 
one indeed was picked up in the city of Hamburg. 
" But," says Carlyle, " to tell the various histories of 
these various diamonds, from the first maldng of them, 
or even omitting all the rest, from the first digging of 
them in far Indian mines .... How they served as 
eyes of heathen idols, and received worship ; how they 
had then by fortune of war, or theft, been knocked out, 
and exchanged among camp-suttlers for a little spiritu- 
ous liquor, and bought by Jews; and worn as signets 
on the fingers of tawny or white majesties ; and again 
been lost, with the fingers too, and perhaps life (as by 
Charles the Eash among the mud ditches of Nancy), in 
old forgotten glorious victories; and so through innu- 
merable varieties of fortune had come at last to the 
cutting-wheel of Bohmer, to be united in strange fellow- 
ship with comrades also blown together from all ends of 
the earth, each with a history of its own. Could these 
aged stones — ^the youngest of them six thousand years 


of age and upwards — but have spoken, there were an 
experience for philosophy to teach by. But now, as 
was said, by little caps of gold and daintiest rings of the 
same, they are all being, so to speak, enlisted under 
Bohmer's flag, — made to take rank and file in new order, 
no jewel asking his neighbour whence he came; and 
parade there for a season. For a season only, and then 
to disperse and enlist anew ad infintium'' * 

For many of their purchases credit was taken by the 
crown jewellers for a limited period ; for others, when 
tiiey had exhausted their own capital, they were obliged 
to have recourse to their friends : but they were full of 
confidence, for two millions of francs — eighty thousand 
pounds sterling — was the sum fixed to be paid by the 
king for this jewel beyond price. The work went 
bravely on at the Bohmer and Bassenge establishment, 
^'Au Grand BaJcon" Eue Vendome. The jewellers, 
their friends, their working lapidaries, their trustful 
creditors, were all in the highest spirits, when suddenly 
evil tidings flung dismay into the Bohmer and Bassenge 
camp. One day comes the intelligence that the king 
is ill ; three days afterwards the news arrives that he is 
in danger ; another week brings the report that he is 
dead, and the late favourite for whom the rich ornament 
was destined banished for ever beyond the precincts of 
the court. 

♦ Carlyle's "Critical and Miscellaneous Essays," vol. iv. p. 8. 


Alas ! what was to be done now with the magnificent 
bauble commissioned by one who, at the time, spite of 
all his low grovelling debauchery, was nevertheless a 
king, but is now only so much corruption ? Bohmer 
and Bassenge, crown jewellers, find themselves deeply 
involved ; their creditors become clamorous, for their 
bills as they fall due are returned protested. They 
have nothing to fall back upon but the Diamond 
Necklace, which is worth, or at any rate valued at, 
two million francs. But where is a purchaser to be 
found for it? Bohmer and Bassenge, crown jewel- 
lers though they be, must still pay their debts. 
Kings, according to a certain fiction of state, never die. 
"Le Boi est Mort! Vive U RoiT Bohmer and Bas- 
senge, however, learn by sad experience not only that 
kings do die, but that creditors, alas, do not. 

What is to be done? Only one course suggests 
itself. A young and lovely queen has just ascended 
the throne. Will it not be possible to induce her to 
become the purchaser of this unrivalled specimen of 
hijovieriei The ofiSce of crown jeweller carries with it 
the privilege of entree to the presence of royalty at all 
times and seasons ; while " other jewellers, and even in- 
numerable gentlemen and small nobility, languish in 
the vestibule. With the costliest ornaments in his 
pockets, or borne after him by assiduous shopboys, the 
happy Bohmer sees high drawing-rooms and sacred 
ruelles fly open as with talismanic sesame, and the 


brightest eyes of the whole world grow brighter : to him 
alone of all men the Unapproachable reveals herself in 
mysterious negligee, taking and giving counsel."* 

It was to Versailles that Bohmer betook himself, 
carrying with him the Diamond Necklace in its case of 
richest velvet, and ere many hours have elapsed he 
is displaying its matchless variegated brilliancy — its 
" flashes of star-rainbow colours " to the admiring gaze 
of the beauteous Marie-Antoinette, then just twenty 
years of age, of a gay and lively disposition, verging, 
some say, on to giddiness, yet perfectly innocent ; fond 
of pleasure, and, like other fair young creatures in this 
world, not indifferent to those personal ornaments which 
help to enhance the charms which Nature has bestowed 
upon them with so liberal a hand. Still, pleased as she 
wa8*with the gem, she nevertheless felt that the times 
were unpropitious ; or else she scorned, may be, to wear 
an ornament, however beautiful, the original destination 
of which was, to say the least of it, unfortunate. But 
be this as it may, one thing is quite certain, the pur- 
chase of the Necklace was declined. 

Thus in a moment, as it were, were dissipated all those 
fond hopes with which the crown jewellers had buoyed 
themselves up for many months past, and they were 
again constrained to ask each other, " what is now to be 
done?" Poor men, they were not to blame, for how 

* Carlyle's " Critical and Miscellaneous Essays," voL iv. p. 6. 


could they foresee that their royal customer, full of 
health in November, 1773, when he gave the order, 
should be dead of small-pox on the 10th of May follow- 
*ing? After several days spent in deliberation the 
partners decided that a drawing of the Necklace should 
be made and an engraving executed, and that printed 
copies of this should be sent to all the courts of Europe, 
to see whether a customer could not be obtained for a 
jewel which, ransack the entire world through, would be 
found without its equal. 

This scheme, however, clever as it was, proved 
abortive ; for what kind of idea could the cunningest 
graver and the most liquescent of printing inks possibly 
give of brilliants of the very finest water? The 
jewellers next resolved that one of the firm — ^Bassenge 
being the younger and more active was eventually 
fixed upon — should devote himself to travelling over 
Europe, and to visiting the various courts, where he 
might personally solicit the diBferent empresses, queens, 
princesses, landgravines, margravines, electresses, in- 
fantas, and grand and arch-duchesses, to purchase this 
costly jewel, which only a neck flushing with the blood 
of royalty was worthy to wear. During this time 
Bohmer was to remain in Paris, to avail himself of any 
opportunity that might offer for reopening negotiations 
with Marie-Antoinette. One circumstance, however, 
rendered the prospect of success doubtful. The queen 
was already indebted to the crown jewellers in the sum 


of 348,000 livres, for a pair of diamond earrings, of 
which amount she had only been able to pay some 

In this way several years went by. Shortly after the * 
birth of Madame Koyale, the Necklace was again 
offered to the queen, but although the reduced price 
of one million eight hundred thousand francs was named 
for it, there was a more serious obstacle than ever in 
the way of the purchase. France was at this period 
engaged in a war with England on behalf of the 
American Colonists, and her navy was in a most crip- 
pled condition. No sooner did the crown jeweller name 
the subject of the Necklace, than Marie-Antoinette inter- 
rupted him with this queen-like remark, " Monsieur, we 
have more need of men-of-war now than of diamonds."! 
What reply could a crown jeweller possibly make to 
Bo pertinent an observation as this ? AU he could do 
was to feel affronted, and affironted he accordingly felt ; 
then hastily making his obeisances^ he flung himseK 
into the comer of his carriage, and set off down the 
long Avenue de Paris on his return to the Eue Vendome 
in no very amiable mood. 

* In the lim'e rouge of Louis XVI. under the date December, 
1776, there is an entry, in the king's own hand, ** Given to the 
queen 25,000 livres, the first payment of a sum of 300,000 livres 
which I have engaged to pay with interest to Bohmer in six years." 
— See Archives of the Empire. 

t Correspondance secrete de la Cour de Louis XVI. 





While Monsieur Bassenge Calaphibus-like is wander- 
ing up and down Europe trying to dispose of the ill-fated 
Diamond Necklace, let us see what our heroine is doing 
now that she has freed herself from the restraints of a 
conventual life to launch forth into the great world 
with no one to direct, no one to control her. On leav- 
ing the abbey of Longchamp the two sisters decided 
upon making their way to Bar-sur-Aube, and embarked 
on board one of the Seine barges plying between Paris 
and Nogent, from which latter place they proceeded 
up the river Aube to their destination.* The youngest 
sister, it seems, was possessed with a certain longing to 
return to the place of her birth. Whether this arose from 
a feeling of vanity, a desire to show off before the simple 
rustics of Fontette, or whether love was the actuating 
principle — ^for she had left a sweetheart behind her 

* " Mtooires du Comte BeugnoV vol. i. p. 9. 


when she was summoned to Paris — is more than we can 
tell. Arrived at Bar-sur-Aube, our heroine informs us 
that she and her sister at once entered a convent, where 
many visitors called upon them, and invited them to a 
round of entertainments at which every one present 
vied with his neighbour as to who should pay them 
the greatest amount of attention. She even asserts 
that they received invitations from the different noble 
families in the neighbourhood, and, in pursuance of 
these, entered upon a series of visits varying from a few 
days to a week in extent. These over, we are told that 
a Madame de Suremont enticed them to board at her 
house, where they were " very elegantly entertained " 
for four hundred francs (sixteen pounds) per annum.* 

Other accounts, which we believe to be more trust- 
worthy, assert that the sisters arrived at Bar-sur-Aube 
with merely a few francs in their pockets, and a single 
change of linen beyond the clothes they had on, and 
that, instead of entering a convent, they put up at a 
miserable little inn called " La Tete Rouge,^^ where they 
made good their footing by their high titles and the 
claims they set up to the manors of Essoyes, Fontette, 
and Verpiliere, in the neighbourhood. The great expec- 
tations they announced soon became generally known 
in a small country town, and the consequence was that 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 146, 
(t seq. 


the good people round about flocked to see them out of 
curiosity, and it was then that Madame de Suremont, 
touched by their distress, offered the fugitives the use 
of her house for a few days until they could manage to 
provide some other lodging for themselves. 

On retiring for the night their hostess, a very stout 
lady, kindly lent them two of her own dresses to wear, 
observing, however, that she was afraid they would be 
too large to fit them. What was Madame de Sure- 
mont's astonishment to see her young guests enter 
the sitting-room the following morning with the dresses, 
which they had spent the night in cutting and adapting 
to their own slim figures, fitting them to perfection! 
Instead, too, of stopping merely a week at this hospitable 
house, according to the teims of their invitation, the 
Mademoiselles de Valois managed to remain in it for 
twelve months, flirting with all the young fellows who 
visited there, and exhibiting more levity and freedom 
than was becoming to their sex.* The ladies, naturally 
enough, all shrank aghast from this bold behaviour, but 
the gentlemen were more or less amused at it. 

In due course several of these young fellows became 
smitten with our heroine, and amongst those who con- 
tested for the honour of her smiles were two who stood 
out in advance of the rest. One was M. Beugnot, the 
writer of the Memoirs we have been quoting, and son of 

* " Memoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 10, et seq. 


a well-to-do citizen of Bar-sur-Aube, who was so alarmed 
at the mere idea of having Mademoiselle de Valois for a 
daughter-in-law that he packed off his son to Paris to 
study law, politics, and human nature, which he did 
to such good purpose as to escape the guillotine, and 
get created a councillor of state and a count by Napo- 
leon, by whom he was appointed administrator of ono 
of the Ehine provinces. At the Restoration he was 
named ad interim minister of the interior, then minis- 
ter of police, next minister of marine, afterwards post- 
master-general, and finally director-general of the ad- 
ministration of finances ; and was altogether so eager 
a place-hunter, that a pamphleteer of the time said of 
him that he would have hired himself out to the plague 
if the plague only gave pensions. The other was M. de 
la Motte, a nephew of Madame de Suremont's, and son 
of a chevalier of St. Louis who was killed at the battle 
of Minden. This young gentleman, an officer, or as 
Madame Campan and the Abbe Georgel say, a private 
in the gendarmerie, and destitute of any fortune what- 
ever, had already managed to involve himself deeply in 
debt. Previous to the Revolution the gendarmerie, 
very different from the force now known by that name, 
was the first cavalry regiment in France, and the usual 
refuge for young men of good family but poor estate. 

Let us hear what the lady herself has to say respect- 
ing this young man (who had only his sword with which 
to cut his way to fortune), and his pretensions to be 


considered the accepted suitor of a descendant of the 
royal house of Valois. 

" Amongst many other species of amusement, we fre- 
quently performed comedies, in one of which I engaged 
to take a part. M. de la Motte, an officer in the gen- 
darmes, and nephew of Madame de Suremont, being 
on a visit to Bar-sur-Aube, acquired great reputation for 
his performance, and became remarked for his assiduity 
and attention to please. The part of a valet was 
assigned to him, and that of a waiting-maid to me. 
We divided the applause of the company, for having, as 
they pleased to express, sustained our characters with so 
much propriety. 

" From the moment of our first interview M. de la 
Motte paid me very pointed attention. He eagerly 
seized every opportunity of showing me how solicitous 
he was to please. His compliments were not glaring, 
but of that delicate nature which could only proceed 
from the genuine dictates of an honest heart. Elegant 
in person and manners, insinuating in address, the 
honourable intention which he manifested could not prove 
disagreeable to me. I listened, and, what is, I believe, 
generally the consequence where any of our sex listen 
to the persuasions of youth, elegance and accomplish- 
ments in the other, was not at a great distance from 
loving him. 

" Madame de Suremont perceived the growing attach- 
ment of her nephfew, and afforded him every opportunity 


of urging his suit. She frequently left us together when 
the company were gone, engaging M. de la Motte to 
remain and write out my parts, and give me instruc- 
tions in acting them. 

"I will ingenuously confess that I loved M. de la Motte. 
He possessed a sincerity of heart, seldom to be found 
excepting in the country, blended with those polished 
manners which mark the hahitue of the metropolis. 
He seized every opportunity of rendering himself agree- 
able, and I had every reason to suppose he entertained 
favourable sentiments towards me, at least I wished so, 
and the gradation is so natural that it will hot appear 
strange if I believed it. 

"M. de la Motte, I had remarked for some days, 
appeared thoughtful and melancholy; but as he had 
never communicated to me the cause, though I was 
uneasy at the effect of it, I forebore to make inquirv. 
He advised me to go to Paris to see my brother, and 
to make known his pretensions to the marchioness, my 
worthy mother, and endeavour to obtain her consent to 
our union. Fearful that breaking this matter suddenly 
to the marchioness, after having carried it on so far 
without her knowledge, might give her offence, I hesi- 
tated some time ere I could form a resolution to 
acquaint her ; but, trusting to her goodness, I at length 
yielded to liis arguments in favour of a determination 
which was also consonant to the dictates of my own 

VOL. I. D 


" When I had resolved on a journey to Paris, which 
highly gratified M. de la Motte, I at once wrote a letter 
to Madame de Boulainvilliers, informing her that having 
heard of my brother's arrival, and being anxious to see 
him, I should be at Paris the Saturday following by 
eight o'clock. The interval was occupied by M. de la 
Motte in giving me directions for my behaviour, and 
earnestly pressing me to return as soon as possible, and 
complete his happiness by the celebration of our nuptials. 
Not a single person in the house, not even my sister, 
was acquainted with what was in agitation. The atten- 
tions of M. de la Motte had long been observed, but our 
marriage was whispered of only as a conjecture. 

"On the Wednesday following, about three in the 
morning, I set off in the diligence, and after a very 
tedious and disagreeable journey, over roads which at 
once prove the neglect of the government and the 
patience of the people, I arrived near Paris, and found 
Julia, the marchioness's first woman, waiting with a 
coach at the Porte Saint-Antoine. I was not a little 
pleased at being so near the end of my journey, and felt 
no regret at quitting my disagreeable vehicle for the 
one which conveyed me to the Hotel de Boulainvilliers. 

" I was impatient to see my brother, but I was disap- 
pointed ; he had received orders to join his squadron at 
Brest. Madame de Boulainvilliers received me with 
that cordiality and affection with which the tenderest of 
mothei'S would receive her daughter after a long absence. 


She told, me that my brother would not have written to 
inform me of his arrival if it could have been foreseen 
how goon he was to depart. This information gave me 
much uneasiness, which Madame de Boulainvilliers used 
the utmost assiduity to dissipate. 

** The evening was occupied by many questions which 
the marchioness asked me relative to Bar-sur-Aube, 
concerning our reception and the diversions and enter- 
tainments of the place. I took advantage of this oppor- 
tunity to mention the comedy. I perceived, from a sign 
she made to Madame de Tonneres, her daughter, that 
she had some private correspondent in that place, who 
had informed her of more than I knew, and that the in- 
formation I had to give was by no means novel. This 
did not a little surprise me. 

"A day or two after they resumed the topic, and 
Madame de Tonneres asked me what character I played. 
'J told her that of a waiting-maid. She seemed surprised 
that I should choose a part like that, when there were 
many others for which I was much better adapted. 
*But who,' said Madame de BoulainvilUers, *was the 
young man who played the part of Jasmin ? Is he a 
young man? Pray how old is he? I could not well 
comprehend the drift of these questions, which, never- 
theless, I found myself constrained to answer. * He is a 
young gentleman,' I replied, * who has a commission in 
the gendarmes,' and I then proceeded to give them 
information respecting his family. * And what do you 


think of him?' 'That he has a pleasing address, is 
much of a gentleman, and has received a very good 
education ; understands music, and dances to perfection : 
everybody gives him the credit of being a very accom- 
plished young man, and all admit that he played his 
character like an experienced actor/ Perceiving me 
growing warm in my encomiums, the marchioness 
smiled. Her daughter observed it, and they exchanged 
some very significant glances with each other, and then, 
to avoid giving me any suspicions, changed the subject 
of the conversation. 

**0n another occasion Madame de Tonneres, with 
\yhom I was frequently left alone, examined me yet 
more closely respecting M. de la Motte. ' What !' in- 
quired she, in a tone of raillery, 'did this presumptuous 
wretch ever aspire to be your husband ?' ' Oh, yes ! he 
proposed demanding me in marriage through his mother, 
at the same time informing me of his fortune and expec- 
tations.' ' And what answer did you make, my dear ?' 
' That I would beg Madame de Boulainvilliers to give 
her consent,' replied I. ' But did you give no promise 
of your own accord, and are you really partial to him ?' 
I answered these questions in the affirmatiye. ' Well, 
then, my dear,' replied she, 'from your approbation, I 
will believe him worthy of your love.' 'Then do me 
the favour,' replied I, ' to represent my afiections to my 
dear mother, at some convenient opportunity when I 
am not present; and you may, if you please, inform her. 


at the same lime, that M. de la Luzerne, bishop of Lan- 
gres, can give her every information of the family, with 
which he is well acquainted : indeed, he has been re- 
quested by the mother of M. de la Motte to demand me 
in marriage.' The result was that Madame de Tonneres 
kindly undertook my cause with the marchioness, who, 
having my happiness at heart, wished me, in a matter 
which could but once be resolved on, to take time for 

" Though Madame de Boulainvilliers seemed rather 
to dissuade me from my purpose than consent to its 
accomplishment, she nevertheless consented to write to 
the Bishop of Langres, who the very next evening paid 
her a visit. As soon as he arrived I made my obedience 
and retired, leaving him and the marchioness to their 
private conference. 

" I was in no small degree of anxiety to learn tlie 
result of a negotiation to me of such importance, yet 
was at a loss of whom to inquire. The next morning I 
was relieved from suspense, for I received a letter from 
the reverend prelate, informing me of their conversation 
the evening before. He gave me some hopes of obtain- 
ing the consent of the marchioness, and this was all ; as 
for the marquis, he positively refused his consent to the 

" In a few days I departed for Bar-sur-Aube : my 
regret at parting with the marchioness was increased by 
my having to return home without obtaining her con- 


sent to our marriage, which, though the express object 
of my journey, I could not consistently with delicacy 
or duty press any further, lest I should appear too 
precipitately to reject the prudent advice she had given 

" My return to Bar-sur-Aube was much more agree- 
able than my journey to Paris. I had written to my 
sister and M. de la Motte to apprise them of it, and 
was met by them about two leagues from Bar-sur-Aube, 
at a beautiful seat, the residence of M. de la Motto's 

" The news of my departure, and the intent of my 
journey, had transpired and extended to tlie village ; 
every one spoke of my marriage with M. de la Motte. 
It was whispered that Mademoiselle de Valois was re- 
turned with the consent of her brother and Madame de 
Boulainvilliers to solemnize this marriage; all wel- 
comed me with as much pleasure as if, instead of a 
week, I had been absent a year. 

" M. de la Motte received me with heartfelt satisfac- 
tion, but his countenance seemed to speak a degree of 
anxiety ; he feared that it was the intention of Madame 
de Boulainvilliers to have married me to some other 
husband, and trembled for the success of my embassy : 
he read in my looks that all was not as it should be, 
while the words which dropped from Madame de Bou- 
lainvilliers made me doubtful whether I should be able 
to obtain her consent. The uneasiness which on this 


€M3Count overspread my countenance was intelligible 
only to M. de la Motte, by whose advice I was pre- 
vailed upon to take the only steps prudence dictated in 
so delicate and embarrassing a position. 

" My pen was the instrument by which I disclosed a 
secret my timidity could never suffer my tongue to dis- 
cover; I immediately wrote to Madame de Boulain- 
villiers three successive letters, entreating her to com- 
passionate my distress, and to let her consent grace our 
union. I also wrote to the Bishop of Langres, asking 
that worthy prelate, who before had done me signal 
service, to intercede with the marchioness in my behalf. 
The intercession of the bishop I was confident would 
have its due weight, and indeed it at length produced 
that consent so essential to my future happiness. 

" The approbation of Madame de Boulainvilliers 
having now given a sanction to our proceedings, an 
early day was appointed, by the advice of the friends 
of M. de la Motte, for the celebration of our nuptials, 
which took place, according to the custom of the pro- 
vince, at midnight on the 6th of June, 1780. 

** The day after our marriage a grand dinner was 
given by Madame de Suremont. The entertainment 
was profusely elegant. There were two tables, one in the 
antechamber, and the other in the dining-room. Every 
apartment was open and very soon crowded ; the health 
of the bride was an apology for drinking wine as though 
it had been water. When the company quitted the 


table, all were desirous to salute and wish me joy. The 
remainder of the day was spent in dancing. 

'• The banns of marriage had been published at Fon- 
tette, which made the peasants of that place curious to 
knuw the day. They came in great numbers to Bar- 
8ur-Aube, with the intention of witnessing the cere- 
mony, and remained there some days. Amongst them 
was a young peasant, a comely young fellow, who came 
to Madame de Suremont and inquired bluntly for 
Mademoiselle Filliette, a name by which my sister had 
formerly been known in the country. * I know no such 
person,' replied she : ' who do you mean by Mademoi- 
selle Filliette ? ' ' Why, madame,' replied the clown, 
* the sister of mademoiselle who is just married. Please 
tell her I am Colas, of Fontette; she will recollect 

*' Madame de Suremont communicated this to my 
sister, who, out of compassion for the unfortunate rustic, 
refused to see him lest such an interview should make 
him more unhappy. Durand, indeed, to detain my 
sister in the country, had promised her in marriage to 
this peasant, whose appearance was greatly in his favour, 
but the recognition of her birth by the people in the 
neighbourhood had kindled in the bosom of Marianne 
hopes of an alliance more consonant to her ideas, more 
consistent with her present station. Far from despising 
this poor creature, she wished to avoid giving him pain. 
She begged me, therefore, to speak to him : I did so* 


* Good day, ray dear friend/ said I, ' what are your com- 
mands for my sister ? ' * I wish, madame,' replied he, 

* to have the honour of paying my respects to her. She 
is of the same age, we have stood sponsors together, and 
M. Durand, her godfather, promised me that I should 
marry her. But her fortune is changed ; she is now 
Mademoiselle de Valois; and I am not quite such a 
fool as to think that she will have me for her husband, 
as she is descended from the blood- royal ; but I wish to 
have the pleasure of seeing her in her fine clothes, for I 
am sure,' continued he, bursting into tears, * she is very 
handsome ! ' * I could not help shedding a tear of pity 
for this honest rustic. His grief, however, was not to 
be alleviated ; the presence of my sister would but have 
increased his misery ; at least she thought so, and could 
not be prevailed upon to see him. Finding himself 
without hope, he went home again, murmuring at what 
he termed the false-heartedness of his mistress. 

"Some few days after I accompanied my sister to 
Fontette, where, it being Sunday, we went to mass. All 
the peasants rose from their seats at our entrance, and 
desired the curate should do us honour, as the children 
of the Baron de Saint-Remi their late lord. We re- 
ceived the holy water and the consecrated bread in the 
seat of honour ; the bells were rung, and every one testi- 

* M, Beugnot says Mademoiselle de Saint-Remi was a fat, hand- 
some girl, extremely fair, and very dull and stupid, with just suflS- 
cient instinct to divine that she was a great lady. 


fled their joy on our arrival. They crowded about the 
house where we were staying ; we ordered them six 
livres a-piece, for which they testified their gratitude by 
drinking our healths, and the health 'of the Baron de 
Saint-Remi de Valois, and his safe return. They then 
conducted me to the mansion of my ancestors, and round 
the grounds of the patrimonial estate. This mansion, 
this noble estate, thought I to myself, might have been 
possessed by the descendants of those who acquired it by 
valour,* and enjoyed it with hospitality. I lamented the 
ravages of luxury : I thought of the credulity and easy 
temper of my father, who sacrificed everything to the 
extravagance of his wife. Had it not been for these he 
might have sustained the dignity of his ancestors, and 
his miserable offspring have maintained that position to 
which they were by birth entitled." t 

To provide herself with a suitable trousseau, Made- 
moiselle de Valois had been obliged to raise one thou- 
sand francs on a mortgage of her pension for two years ; 
while, to defray the expenses incident to the wedding, 
M. de la Motte, on his part, sold for six hundred francs 
a horse and cabriolet which he had only bought a 

* Acquired it rather by the accident of being bom bastard off- 
spring of a king. 

t " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol i. p. 151, et 
seq. The reader must take this glowing description of the wedding 
and what transpired subsequently at Fontette, subject to large allow- 
ances for Madame de la Motte*s habitual exaggeration, to make 
use of no stronger term. 


short time previously on credit at Liineville» where his 
corps was doing garrison duty.* 

We will close this chapter with a pair of portraits of 
Monsieur and Madame de la Motte, which their friend 
Beugnot has sketched for our benefit "M. de la 
Motte," observes his rival, " was an ugly man, but 
well formed and skilled in all bodily exercises, and, 
despite his ugliness, the expression of his face was 
amiable and mild. He did not exactly lack talent, still 
what he possessed was frittered away on trifles. Desti- 
tute of all fortune, he was clever enough to get head 
over ears in debt, and only lived by his wits and the 
trifling allowance of three hundred francs a year which 
his imcle, M. de Suremont, was obliged to make him to 
enable him to retain his position in the gendarmerie." 

With regard to Madame de la Motte, Beugnot says : 
" She was not exactly handsome, was short in stature, 
slender, and well formed. Her blue eyes were full of 
expression and over-arched with black eyebrows; her 
face rather long; her mouth wide, but adorned with 
fine teeth, and, what is the greatest attraction in such 
a face as hers, her smile was enchanting. She had a 
pretty hand, a very small foot, and a complexion of 
dazzling whiteness. When she spoke her mind exhi- 
bited no sign of acquired knowledge, but she had much 
natural intelligence, and a quick and penetrating under- 

* ** Mtooires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 16. 


standing. Engaged in a perpetual conflict with society 
from the time of her birth, she had learned to disdain 
its laws, and had but little respect for those of morality." 
M. Beugnot adds the following anecdote : 
" When I returned home that evening my father 
mentioned to me that fifteen or twenty years previously, 
whenever he went to collect his rents in the parish of 
Essoyes, the cure of Fontette never failed to tax his 
purse for the poor children dr Jacques de Saint-Eemi, 
who were huddled together in a dilapidated hovel with 
a trap-hole in front, through which soup, vegetables, 
broken victuals, and other charitable doles were passed 
by the neighbours." * 

* " Memoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. L pp. 11, 14. 





From the day of her marriage, in the summer of 1780, 
our heroine assumed the title of Countess de Valois 
de la Motte, though on ordinary occasions she dropixjd 
the former portion of it, retaining only the name of Do 
la Motte, by which she afterwards became so notorious. 
The wedding did not take place a day too soon, for in 
the course of the same or following month the countess 
gave birth to male twins, that died a few days after- 
wards; upon which occurrence Madame de Suremont, 
glad of an excuse for getting rid of her new relation — 
the old lady used to say to Bengnot that " the most 
unhappy year of her life was the one she spent in the 
society of this demon " — turned the newly-married couple 
out of her house.* They took refuge for a time with 

* " Memoires du Comte Bengnot," vol. i.p. 13. IJ^taux de Villettc, 
one of the countess's many lovers, and of whom we shall by-and- 


Madame de la Tour, a married sister of the count's — 
the young gendarme, following the example of his wife, 
had likewise assumed a title — but were finally obliged 
to rely on their own resources, which, as may be sup- 
posed, were of the narrowest. De la Motte himself 
had nothing but his sword, and the countess had not 
even her scanty pension to depend upon. Now com- 
menced with them that life of shifts and expedients, 
which is certain in the long run to disappoint those who 
are unhappily reduced to enter upon it, which dissolves 
the principles and destroys the best of habits of even 
the firmest characters, and too frequently ultimately 
terminates in crime. By borrowing money from friends 
and neighbours so long as they were disposed to lend it, 
by occasional loans from money-lenders at exorbitant 
rates of interest, by running into debt with the trades- 
people, and by certain small bounties received from 
Paris, to assist the descendants of Henri II., in answer 

by have occasion to speak, professes to have heard the story of the 
countess's numerous liaisons from her own lips. He says that the 
reprobate Marquis de Boulainvilliers succeeded in seducing both the 
countess and her sister, and that the former was moreover enceinte 
by the Bishop of Langres at the time of her marriage with M. de la 
Motte, which is the reason why this "worthy prelate," as the 
countess styles him, interested himself in hastening forward the 
ceremony. This may seem a startling statement, but those who are 
aware of the extreme immorality which pervaded the upper classes of 
French society at this period, and especially the clerical section of it, 
will have no difficulty in believing it. — See "Mdmoire Historique 
des Intrigues de la Cour," etc, par Edtaux de Yillette, p. 4, et seq,^ 
also jpost, p. 58. 


to letters of supplication written by the countess, the 
newly-married couple dragged on as best they could. 

The count's leave of absence having at length ex- 
pired, he was summoned back to garrison duty at 
Luneville, a dull, decaying, fortified town, composed of 
straight streets and regular buildings, where in subse- 
quent years the treaty of peace between France and 
Austria was signed, which gave to the former the 
coveted frontier of the Ehine. The palace built by 
Philip, duke of Lorraine, grandfather of Marie- Antoi- 
nette, was then, as now, a caserne de cavalerie, and it 
was to this barrack that Count de la Motte took his 
wife to share with him his incommodious quarters. 
Here madame's "lively complexion" and "excess of 
vivacity," as she styles them, were net long in exer- 
cising their sway over the more susceptible of her 
husband's comrades. In September of the following 
year the count and his wife had determined upon pro- 
ceeding to Paris to urge the Marchioness de Boulain- 
villiers to interest herself in their behalf, a project which 
was knocked on tlie head by the count's commanding 
officer, the Marquis d'Autichamp, whose too familiar 
intimacy with Madame de la Motte was the talk not 
merely of the corps, but of the town,* and who had 
himself contemplated escorting madame on her journey 

* ** M^moire Historique des Intrigues de la Cour," etc. par E^taux 
de Villette, p. 5. Yillette was in the same corps as Count de la 
Motte, and on duty at Luneville at the time we are speaking of. 


to the capital, peremptorily refusing the count any fur- 
ther leave of absence. Just at this time intelligence 
reached the De la Mottes that the Marquis and Mar- 
chioness de Boulainvilliers were at Strasbourg, only some 
threescore miles or so away. Commanding- officer 
d'Autichamp, we suppose, relents ; for the count gets 
a few days' leave, and to Strasbourg the pair hasten 
as fast' as a French diligence of the eighteenth century 
will carry them, which is, however, not fast enongh, for 
on their arrival they learn from the great charlatan of 
the age. Count Cagliostro, who just then happens to be 
showing off in the capital of Alsace, that the Marquis 
and Marchioness de Boulainvilliers have departed for 
Cardinal Prince Louis de Kohan's palace at Saverne. 
There was nothing else but to give chase, so off the De 
la Mottes start, and on their arrival in the vicinity 
of the episcopal chateau, put up at some little inn, 
whence the countess writes to Madame de Boulainvil- 
liers, apprising her that she is in the neighbourhood, and 
asking when she may be permitted to call upon her. The 
next day she is honoured by a visit from the marquis, 
who escorts her over to his wife. Some few days after- 
wards, while the marchioness and madame are taking a 
carriage drive together, they meet the Cardinal de Eohan, 
Grand Almoner of France, to whom Madame de Boulain- 
villiers introduces her protegee, and strongly recom- 
mends her to this powerful prelate's kindly notice.* 

* "Premier InteiTogatoire du Cardinal de Rohan." 


On her return home to barrack quarters, if home 
indeed they could be called, the countess harped, day 
by day, upon her fancied claims to the three estates 
that formerly belonged to her family, and no wonder if 
she at length came to the conclusion that Paris and 
Versailles, rather than a dull garrison town like Lune- 
ville, were the proper spheres for her enterprise and 
ambition. To Paris, therefore, she resolved to go ; but, 
alas ! how was she to obtain the means of defraying the 
expenses of her journey and of her sojourn in the 
capital ? Commanding-officer d'Autichamp would wil- 
lingly escort her there, and pay all travelling expenses, 
but her husband cannot be brought to consent. For- 
tunately for the countess, one of her Bar-sur-Aube 
friends — the father of the M. Beugnot, of whom we have 
already spoken — came to the rescue with a loan of one 
thousand francs, and to her honour it may be recorded, 
that whenever afterwards she spoke of this service she 
was always much moved, and, what is perhaps more to 
her. credit, during the period of her dishonest prosperity 
she paid the money, as she paid ajl the debts she had 
contracted at Bar-sur-Aube, her adopted home. How- 
ever corrupt her general character may have been, she 
was certainly not wanting in gratitude. 

This thousand francs she and her husband divided 
equally between them, and they then set forth in 
diflferent directions, it is true, but still with the same 
object at heart, namely, to procure the restitution of 
. VOL. I. E 


the Saint-Eemi estates. The countess went to Paris to 
press her claims on the attention of those in power. 
The count resigned his post in the gendarmerie, never 
to do, from that hour forward, another day of honest 
work during the remainder of his long life, and betook 
himself to Fontette to search for evidence on the spot, 
and to ascertain the exact nature of the steps requisite 
to be taken to recover possession of this and the 
adjacent Saint-Eemi domains. Arrived at his destina- 
tion, he caused a Te Deum to be chanted in the church, 
and, as the congregation were leaving, scattered hands- 
ful of five-franc pieces among the gaping crowd, who, on 
experiencing this mark of fevour, did not hesitate to 
hail him as their lord ; and lord of Fontette he was by 
courtesy so long as his money lasted, which, unfor- 
tunately for the rustics of the place, was not long. 
The last franc dissipated, the count was only too glad 
to get back again to Bar-sur-Aube to such a home as 
his sister was able to offer him.* 

The countess, on her part, so soon as she arrived in 
Paris, proceeded to set to work. She wrote at once to 
young Beugnot, who was then prosecuting his legal 
studies in the capital, informing him that she had a 
letter for him from his father, and asking him to call 
upon her. Beugnot lost no time in complying with her 
request, and found the purport of the letter was to urge 

* " Mdmoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. pp. 17, 19. 


him thoroughly to examine the countess's claims to the ' 
Fontette, Essoyes, and other estates, and see if there 
was any real foundation for them. " I took the afiGair," 
says Beugnot, " seriously in hand as my father desired 
me, and readily enough found the letters patent of 
Henri 11. which conferred the domains in question on 
his natural son, but I could not trace the various acts 
diverting the possession of them from the Saint-Eemis 
into the hands of those diflFerent proprietors who were 
in nowise connected with the family. One of the latest 
of these, a M. Orceau de Fontette, superintendent of 
Caen, had exchanged the lands held by him with the 
king. This was a favourable circumstance for us in the 
prosecution of our claim, as the king had only to forego 
his hold upon the property to restore to the Saint- 
Bemis one of the possessions of their forefathers."* 

The young lawyer now proceeded to compose a 
" Memoire,". wherein, in true French style, he spoke of 
his client's case as " one more insult of fortune to the 
Valois, the hard lot of a branch detached from that 
ancient tree which had so long covered with its royal 
shade France and other European states. I inter- 
spersed my composition," says Beugnot, "with those 
philosophical reflections then so much in fashion, and 
asked the Bourbons to pay the natural debt of those 
from whom they had received so magnificent a heritage. 

* " M^moires du Comte Beugnot,** vol. i. p. 18. 


I submitted my composition to M. EKe de Beaumont, a 
celebrated advocate, and also a man of taste. ^ It is a 
pity/ remarked he, * that we cannot bring this business 
before the Parliament ; it would make your reputation.' 
Alas ! I did not even receive for my labour the honours 
of print. People said it was entirely a matter for the 
royal favour, and that to print the * Memoire ' would be 
contrary to the respect due to the king." * Beugnot 
thereupon composed a new " Memoire," or rather peti- 
tion to the crown, which was in due course presented, 
though without producing the result which the san- 
guine expectations of the countess and her advocate 
anticipated from it. 

Early in November, 1781, either by previous invitation 
from the marchioness or of her own accord, Madame de 
la Motte presented herself at the H6tel de Boulain- 
villiers, bent upon jogging the marchioness's memory 
with reference to a commission in the dragoons which 
she had made a half promise to obtain for the count, 
her husband, and intending to say a few words respect- 
ing her own claim to the Saint-Eemi estates, when, to 
her surprise and grief, she found her benefactress lying 
dangerously ill. She remained and tended her until 
her death, which took place in about three weeks ; yet, 
strange to say, she was unable to forego her passion for 
intrigue even at a time like this, for she admits, while 

♦ " Memoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 20. 


the marchioness was lying past hope of recovery, having 
had a tete-ortete interview with the marquis, on the 
length of which she was rallied by the gentlemen stay- 
ing at the hotel. During this interview the marquis, 
she tells us, made her " a downright proposal " to the 
eflFect that on his wife's death she should reside with 
him as his mistress, he engaging to procure for her 
husband a post in some regiment which should " pre- 
vent him from troubling them too often." All this she 
calmly listened to, and when the marchioness was dead 
still continued to reside under the same roof with the 
man who had made this disgraceful proposition to her, 
exposed, as she herself admits, to his daily persecutions. 
The old reprobate, too, was always upbraiding her, she 
says, with "loving other men better than him," and 
openly accused her of carrying on an intrigue beneath his 
roof with the old Bishop of Langres, who visited her much 
more frequently than he thought necessary or prudent. 
After a while the count, who has been rusticating 
ever since his Fontette expedition at Bar-sur-Aube, 
turns up at the Boulainvilliers Hotel to look after his 
wife, when the marquis, in revenge, as madame says, for 
the contempt with which- she invariably treated him, 
endeavoured to arouse the jealousy of her husband by 
accusing her — falsely, of course — with being too inti- 
mate with his son-in-law, and of sundry unbecoming 
fiumliarities with the count's cousin, who had pawned 
his watch to defray the expense of a three-days' frolic 


with the countess at Versailles ; but Count de la Motte, 
according to his wife, " had too much good sense to give 
any credit to tliese insinuations ; he listened attentively, 
but did not believe a single iota." * 

While the countess was residing under the Boulain- 
viiliers roof she was constantly on the look-out to push 
her own or her husband's fortunes, and eventually suc- 
ceeded in talking over the Baron de Crussol, son-in- 
law of the Marquis de Boulainvilliers, to procure 
M. de la Motte a post in the Count d'Artois's body- 
guard. This necessitated the count's removal to Ver- 
sailles ; so, turning their backs on the Boulainvilliers 
Hotel, where the marquis had for some time past 
adopted an unpleasant system of retrenchment in order 
to bring madame to " his way of thinking " — ^in other 
words, had placed the descendant of the house of Valois 
and her tall and hungry spouse on exceedingly short 
commons — the pair went forth in search of whatever 
Fortune might please to send them. 

From certain hints dropped by the countess it is 
evident that she had grown disgusted with the avarice 
and meanness rather than with what she calls the 
" detested attentions " of the marquis, who, had he only 
loosened his purse-strings, and dispensed his bounty 
with a liberal hand, had been looked upon favourably 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," voL i. pp. 189, 
191, 204. 


enough, and possibly had been the means of saving 
Cardinal Prince de Eohan from getting entangled in 
the countess's toils. 

It is not to be supposed that at this epoch of her 
career Madame de la Motte had forgotten her introduc- 
tion to this prelate, or that she omitted to remind him 
of it, and of Madame de Boulainvilliers' recommenda- 
tion of her to his notice and sympathy. Was he not, 
in fact. Grand Almoner of France, and, by virtue of his 
oflSce, dispenser of the king's and a nation's bounties ? 
and humiliating though she might pretend it to be for 
one who had the blood of the Valois in her veins to 
have to appeal to the servant of the sovereign instead 
of to the throne itself, the pill, if a trifle bitter, must 
nevertheless be swallowed. 

Cardinal Prince Louis de Eohan, at this time in Lis 
eight-and-fortieth year, is described as a tall, portly, 
handsome-looking man, with a slightly ruddy com- 
plexion, bald forehead, and almost white hair. There was 
a noble and easy bearing about him,* and his manners 
are said to have been singularly agreeable so long as he 
kept his temper, of late grown exceedingly choleric, 
under restraint. He was weak and vain, and credulous 
to a degree; anything but devout, and mad after 
women.t Unrestricted by his priestly oflSce, he led a 

* " M^iioire pour Bette d'Eticnville." 

t " Mtooirus de la Baronne d'Oberkirche," vol, i. p. 127. 


notoriously dissolute life; still, he was generally re- 
garded as a good-enough sort of man so far as little 
acts of kindness and generosity were concerned. It is 
not to be wondered at, therefore, that he responded 
favourably to the countess's first and second appeals. 
This gave her hope ; and, the better to profit by the 
gitaid almoner's liberality, and to secure his influence 
in support of her claims, she took an apartment in 
Paris during the summer of 1782 within a short dis- 
tance of his hotel. It was a poor sort of a lodging, con- 
sisting merely of two ill-furnished rooms on the topmost 
etage at the Hotel de Reims, in the Kue de la Verrerie, 
a narrow, ill-paved, irregularly-built street— devoted at 
the present day, not to glass factories or warehouses, as 
its name would lead one to imply, but to grocery, and 
soap and candle and dried fruit stores, and locksmiths' 
shops, every one of which hangs out its monster red or 
golden key by way of sign — running from the Rue des 
Lombards into the Rue de Bercy, which intersects \hb 
Rue Vieille-du-Temple, where the Hotel de Strasbourg, 
or Palais-Cardinal, as it was sometimes called, was 
situated, and in which for the moment all the coun- 
tess's hopes are centred. 

This hotel, built in the year 1712 by Cardinal Con- 
stantino de Rohan, uncle of the grand almoner, on a 
portion of the gardens of the Hotel de Soubise, is now 
the Imperial Printing Office, and internally retains no 
traces of what it was when Prince Louis de Rohan lived 


here in state befitting the dignity of a prince of the 
German empire and a cardinal of the Holy Eoman 
ChurcL The entrance gateway and the buildings 
forming the external boundaries of the court in front of 
the hotel are, with the exception of some evident altera- 
tions, much the same as they were in the days when 
the Countess de la Motte was a frequent visitor at the 
Palais-CardinaL The court itself is divided by parallel 
ranges of buildings at right angles with the principal 
front, and a gateway on the right-hand side leads to what 
was evidently the stable-court, where a noble bas-relief 
by Couston, representing the watering of the horses of 
the sun, with the animals full life-size, may be seen 
over one of the arched entrances to the stables — those 
stables where the horse of one of the cardinal's heyducs 
dropped down dead on a memorable occasion of which 
we shall by-and-by have to speak. The facade of the 
hotel has undergone only some slight alteration since 
the cardinal's time, but it is not so with the interior ; 
the grand staircase has been removed, and the magnifi- 
cent salons de reception have been converted into &u- 
reaux for the officials attached to the imperial printing 
establishment In the principal waiting-room are four 
paintings by Boucher, said to have formed part of the 
original decorations of the Palais-Cardinal : one repre- 
sents Mars attiring for the wars, with Venus holding 
his shield and Cupid handing him his helmet ; another 
shows Mars reposing, with Venus, who looks wonderfully 


like a French marchioness of the eighteenth century, 
with even a scantier allowance of drapery than usual, 
reclining beside him on a cloud; a third represents 
Juno with her peacock, the immortal Jove facing her, 
and Boreas and jEoIus at his feet, blowing as though 
they would burst ; while in the fourth subject we have 
Neptune ruling the waves with his trident, and a trio of 
sea-gods spurting water out of long horn-shaped shells. 

The garden front of the Palais-Cardinal is far more 
elegant than the one which looks upon the court ; it is 
decorated with lofty columns surmounted with enriched 
capitals, and with sundry emblems and the armorial 
bearings of the house of Eohan sculptured on the pro- 
jections of the facade. Only a small portion of the 
palace garden now remains to it, the chief part having 
been covered over with long ranges of oflSces in which 
the workmen attached to the imperial printing establish- 
ment ply their several callings. 

The Countess de la Motte was woman of the world 
enough to know that much may be accomplished by 
personal solicitation when written applications are of 
little or no avail. The Cardinal de Eohan too had a 
reputation for gallantry ; and as for the countess her- 
self, she tells us in her " Memoirs " that " her face, if 
not exactly handsome, had a certain piquancy about it 
which, combined with her vivacity (Beugnot admits her 
smile was perfectly enchanting), supplied in her the 
want of beauty so far as to lay her open to the impor* 


tunities of designing men." She therefore sought an 
audience of the grand almoner, and, finding that this 
would be accorded her, called upon young Beugnot the 
day before to beg three things of him — his carriage, his 
servant to follow her, and himself to accompany her. 
"All these," said she, "are indispensable, since there 
are only two good ways of asking alms — ^at the church 
door, and in a carriage." " I did not," observes Beu- 
gnot, " raise any difficulties as to the first two points, but 
I peremptorily refused my arm, as I could only have 
presented myself with her before the Cardinal de Eohan 
in the character of her advocate, after his eminence had 
been warned of my coming, and had given his permis- 
sion." * Madame was, therefore, constrained to present 
herself at the cardinal's hotel without any other escort 
beyond the footman lent to her by her friend. 

At the first interview Madame de la Motte had with 
the cardinal, the latter, as might have been expected 
from his well-known character for gallantry, proved 
incapable of resisting the countess's artful allurements, 
and she, bent on completing the conquest which she 
felt she had made, on the occasion of subsequent visits 
to the Hotel de Strasbourg, dressed herself out in the 
most coquettish style, and made the air of its magnifi- 
cent saloons redolent with the odour of her perfumes.t 

* ** Mdmoires du Comte Beugnot^" vol. i. pp. 21, 22. 
t " M^moire Historique des Intrigues de la Cour," etc., par R^taux 
de Villette, p. 10. 





At the time the countess was engaged in setting her 
snares for the Cardinal de Eohan, she dined one day with 
our young Bar-sur-Aube advocate, who saw that she was 
in most excellent spirits, which, every now and then, ex- 
haled in malicious remarks respecting their common ac- 
quaintances. " I tried in vain," says Beugnot, " to lead her 
to more serious talk. Irritated at last, I threatened to 
abandon her entirely to her foUy. She answered me 
gaily that she no longer had need of me. My brow 
contracted ; she saw that she was likely to lose me, and 
took the trouble to explain to me that I had been 
exceedingly useful to her in unravelling the particulars 
of her claim, in composing *memoires* and petitions 
for her — in a word, in all the duties of an advocate — 
but that she had now arrived at a point where she 
required counsel of a different kind. She wanted some 
one who could point out to her the way of getting 


at the queen and the wnitSLeiwi^bikh^ — ^who knew 
equally well what was necessary to be done as to leave 
undone — in a word, one who was alike capable of con- 
cocting a good intrigue, and of carrying it successfully 
through. It was necessary that I should now hear £rom 
her lips, without making an ugly grimace with my own, 
that in an affair of this kind she looked upon me as the 
most foolish of men; she had, indeed, already taken 
several steps without asking my advice. Her husband's 
condition, she went on to say, was one of ridicule to all 
the world, and consequently an obstacle to her advance- 
ment. She had made him enter as supernumerary into 
the Count d'Artois' body-guard, which would give him a 
sort of standing, which the gendarmerie did not She 
had found means, moreover, to get him to Versailles to 
perform his duties there, and where, at least, he would 
not be so sorry a sight as he was in the country. She 
observed that she was about to reside at Versailles her- 
self, in order to secure an opportunity of getting at the 
queen, and of interesting her majesty in her favour. 
This was the first time," remarks Beu^ot, " that she 
pronounced the name of her sovereign in my presence."* 
At Versailles, which at this period was crowded with 
intriguers and adventurers, living for the most part by 
their wits, the countess resided, first of all with the 
widow Bourgeois, in the Place Dauphine, whence 

* " Memoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. pp. 25, 26. 


she speedily removed to the Hotel de Jouy, in the Eiie 
des EdcoUets, a long narrow street leading on to the 
immense Place d'Armes, in front of the chateau. Some 
of its houses — ^bnilt in strict accordance with the edict 
promulgated by the grand monarque at the time a new 
Versailles was springing up in the neighbourhood of his 
vast palace, namely, only a single storey high, with 
attics, and roofed with slate — evidently date back to 
the days of Louis XIV. The Hotel de Jouy, where 
the countess had her quarters, is now an ordinary 
dwelling-house, lofty and narrow, with a certain air of 
respectability about it, situated at the far end of the 
street (No. 23),* in an opposite direction to the chateau. 
Having next to nothing to live upon, it is not to be 
wondered at that the De la Mottes were soon deeply in 
debt. The countess, it is true, converted her apartment 
into a kind of ofiSce, whence she periodically sent 
forth letters of supplication to the nobility for relief, 
and petitions to the crown praying for the restoration 
of the Saint-Eemi domains, but, although she urged 
her suit with audacious pertinacity, the result seems to 
have fallen far short of her expectations. Fortunately 
for her there was always the Cardinal de Kohan to fall 
back upon, and the snares which she laid for him 
appear to have been set to some purpose, for, ere six 
months had gone by, Madame de la Motte had so far 

* " Histoire anecdotiqiie des Ruesde Versailles," par J. A. Le Roi. 


improyed her aoquaintance with the grand ahnoner, 
who even assisted her in the composition of her peti- 
tions and memorials,* as to become convinced, in accord- 
ance with the rule she had laid down, that alms could 
be only effectively asked for at the church-door or from 
a carriage, that a more respectable lodging was indis- 
pensable to enable her to profit by the opportunities 
which this intercourse seemed to open out to her. 
There were, moreover, other and most pressing reasons 
for quitting the Hotel de Eeims. The De la Mottes 
were fifteen hundred and eighty francs in debt to their 
landlord, who had latterly not only lodged, but boarded 
them ; in addition to which the countess had quarrelled 
with the landlady, and had attempted, it was said, to 
throw her down-stairs.t The result was a police case, 
and their ejection from the premises. A "spacious 
appartement,'* the rent of which was twelve hundred 
francs, was therefore hired by them in the Eue Neuve- 
Saint-GiUes (No. 13), at that time a quiet and very 
respectable street leading out of the Eue Saint-Louis, 
now the Rue Turenne, and consisting entirely of private 
houses, within sight, too, of the Place Eoyale, where 
three centuries ago stood the ancient Palais des 
Tournelles, at the tournament in front of which Madame 
de la Motto's royal ancestor, Henri de Valois, lost his 
life, and almost in a direct line (in an opposite direc- 

* " Premier Interrogatoire du Cardinal de Eohan." 
t ** M^moire pour le Cardinal de Rohan," p. 9. 


tion to the Eue de la Verrerie) with the cardinal's 
hdtely from which it was distant only a couple of 
short streets, or some five or six minutes' walk. 
Owing to their straitened means the De la Mottes were 
unable to furnish their new appartement until the 
month of May, 1783, and in the meantime madame, 
when not at Versailles, was obliged to live au einquieme 
with the mother of her f em/me de cTiamhre* and yet she 
pretends that at this time she kept five servants, male 
and female, and a couple of carriages.! 

This was mere vain boasting. She was not yet in a 
position to ask alms from a carriage, but was still 
obliged to send her begging letters through the post, 
or be herseK the bearer of them. One of these missives, 
written at this particular epoch, and evidently ad- 
dressed to some person in an ofiScial position — possibly 
to M. d'Ormesson, the then controller-general, or to 
M. de Breteuil, minister of the king's household — ^has 
been preserved, and furnishes a fair specimen of her 
style of appeal to persons in power — ^a little flattery, 
more -or less hypocrisy, allusions to her high descent 
and a covert threat or two. We extract its main pas- 
sages, which we have translated as closely as the bad 
handwriting and worse spelling of the original docu- 
ment admit of our doing. 

* " Mdmoire pour le Cardinal de Rohan,** p. 10. 

t " Premier Interrogatoire de Madame de la Motte.** 


^ You have done me the honour, sir, of infonning me 
that you have caused to be remitted to M. Lenoir 
several notes which I have sent you ; but I believed 
that you, sir, would have had the goodness to oblige 
me, who am more sensible than any one of the confi- 
dence which the king has in you. You are too just to 
see any harm in there being granted me so small a sum 
as has, to my knowledge, just been accorded to a person 
who is not so much to be pitied as I, nor with so much 
right. I cannot think who it is that has usurped the 

place due to my misfortunes I know that M. de 

Forge [intendant of the royal fisheries and forests, of 
which one or more of the Valois estates was part] is 
very much opposed to my having the estate which I 
ask by right ; still, I cannot conceive that it matters to 

him whether I or another am tenant of the king 

I have the honour of assuring you that I had yesterday 
only a single livre (franc), consequently I may well 

hope to improve my fortune It is you, sir, and 

your good faith that console me. I am very sensible 
that you are not unmindful of my misfortunes. I 
believe that you told me you would speak to M. de 
Vergennes. I have inquired if this matter is under 
his control, and am assured it is on you alone that 
it depends, I recommend myself, therefore, to your 
kindness, ... It is not my intention to offer a menace 
to any one in declaring that I shall end by throwing 
myseK at the feet of the king, and acquainting him 

VOL. I. P 


with all my misfortunes. If you, sir, camiot lend me 
your assistance, I beg you to have the goodness to 
cause to be returned to me the documents which I have 
had the honour to send you. I shall see, on the day of 
the court, whether it will not be possible for me to 
change my lot, and for my efforts to get me accorded 
the trifling sum I have asked. M. Lenoir sent me 
yesterday a safe conduct, which M. Amelon requested 
of him on my behalf, for a large sum which I have 
owed these two years past, but which has not yet 
reduced me to sell my furniture, and thereby ^cause 
scandals which would assuredly have been aimed at 
me. Nevertheless, there is no help for it ; I shall be 
forced to make away with it so that I may live. God 
has not yet determined my fate, and, if Providence does 
not show pity on me, people will have to reproach 
themselves at seeing me come to a most miserable end. 
I am not ashamed to tell you, sir, that I am going out 
into the world to beg. I have borrowed from the 
Baron de Clugny, of the llinistry of Marine, three 
hundred livres to enable me to live, which, counting on 
your goodness, I have promised to return him in a 
week's time. No one, sir, has so much reason to com- 
plain as I have — my husband without a post, my sister 
for a long time on my hands, has, of course, contributed 
to my debts. People may do as they please with me ; 
still, I say it is frightful to abandon a relation of a 
king, whom he has himself recognised, and who is in 


&e most fiightfnl position. You will, doubtless, sir, 
consider me very unreasonable, but I cannot keep 
myself from complaining, since not even the smallest 
grace is accorded me. I am no longer surprised that 
so many people are driven into crime, and I can say, 
moreover, that it is religion alone that keeps me from 

doing wrong 

" I have the honour to be, with all the attachment of 
which you are deserving, Sir, 

" Your very humble, very obedient Servant, 

" Countess db Vaxois de la Motte. 

** Paris, May 16th, 1783."» 

Unless she desired to have a couple of strings to 
her bow, we can hardly imagine the " safe conduct " 
referred to in the foregoing letter was required by 
Madame de la Motte, for in her Memoirs she tells us 
that the Countess de Provence interested herself to 
procure for her an arret de surseance, or writ under the 
king's sign manual, which not only protected the 
person named in it from arrest, but saved him or her 
from being harassed by suits at law as well; she at 
the same time obtained a "safe conduct" for her 
husband, the count. Convenient documents, both of 

* Unpublished Autograph Letter of the Countess de la Motte in 
the collection of M. Feuillet de Conches. This letter is endorsed 
" M. Lenoir. The concession asked is impossible. Can they obtain 
other help ? 18th May, 1783." M. Lenoir was lieutenant-general 
of police at this period. 


these, for individuals of the De la Motte stamp. The 
count's " safe conduct " was not procured until there 
was pressing need of it, for at this time the ex-gen- 
darme was hiding from his creditors in a little avherge 
at Brie-Comte-Kobert,* famous now-a-days for its beau- 
tiful roses, and a score or so of miles from Paris on the 
Lyons road, and close to the Abbey of Jarcy, where 
his sister-in-law. Mademoiselle de Saint-Remi, after- 
wards went to reside. The chances are that he had 
already lost his post in the Count d'Artois' body-guard, 
although Madame de la Motte pretended that the 
countess was her protectress, and that the count used 
to notice her " in a particular manner " whenever she 
went to church at Versailles — a notice which, by the 
way, it has been insinuated, subsequently ripened into 
a too familiar intimacy.! 

The furniture which, on the guarantee of a Jew, the 
De la Mottes eventually succeeded in obtaining for 
their new appartement in the Rue Neuve-Saint-Gilles, 
was far from splendid, and it was, moreover, every now 
and then being sent to some neighbour, notably to 
Burlandeux, the count's barber, to save it from being 
taken in execution, J and not unfrequently to the 
pawnbrokers to provide the family with meat and 

* " CoDfrontations du Cardinal avec Madame de la Motte." 

t " Momoire Historique des Intrigues de la Cour, etc.," par Retaux 

f]e Villettc, p. 8, and "Anecdotes du Regne de Louis XVI." vol, i. 

p. ,^G7. 

1 " Confrontations du Cardinal avec Madame de la Motte." 


bread * The countess of course kept up her intimacy 
with the cardinal, on whose liberality, or call it charity 
if you will, she could to a certain extent count. If we 
believe the cardinal's statement, the donations which 
he bestowed upon her at this period were far from 
being of that prodigal character which the countess 
afterwards asserted them to have been, and were per- 
fectly consistent with his character of priest and grand 
almoner rather than of lover and man of gallantry, 
which Madame de la Motte openly insinuated was the 
nature of the cardinal's then relations towards her. The 
cardinal asserted that about four or five louis at a time, 
and at irregular and somewhat distant intervals, was 
the extent of the benefactions she received from him ; 
•but he was forced to admit that he had given her 
twenty-five louis on one occasion, and it eventually 
oozed out that he had also made himself personally 
liable to a Jew money-lender of Nancy for five thousand 
five hundred livres (francs), a debt contracted by the 
count when he was stationed at Luneville, and which 
amount the cardinal of course eventually had to pay.f 
These facts would seem to prove that at this period the 
countess had succeeded in ensnaring her victim, pre- 
paratory to making him, as she afterwards did, her 
dupe and then her instrument. 

Madame de la Motte was very much in the habit of 

* See post ^ p. 71. 

t " Premier Interrogatoire de Madame de la Motte," 


exaggerating the amount of the charitable gifts be- 
stowed upon her by members of the royal family and 
some few of the French nobility, and even claimed to 
have received certain apocryphal sums from persons of 
distinction who never once assisted her. The reason 
for this will be apparent enough in the course of our 
narrative. In the memorials and reports published in 
1786 are various disclaimers on the part of people of 
rank, among others, the Duke de Chartres (afterwards 
Orleans !]£galite), the Duke de Penthievre, the Duke de 
Choiseul, the controleur-ffeneral, &c., showing that these 
exceedingly liberal benefactors, as the countess had 
made them out to be, had either given nothing at all, 
or else that a huge disparity existed between the sum 
really given and the amount pretended to have been 
received. Her friend, Beugnot, moreover, speaks at 
this period of sundry treats of an evening on the Boule- 
vards, consisting of cakes and beer, for which beverage 
she had a particular liking, while, as regards cakes, she 
would devour two or three dozen of these at a sitting, 
making it evident that she had dined but lightly on 
these occasions, if, indeed, she had dined at all.* She, 
however, most astonished Beugnot by the voracity of 
her appetite when she dined with him, as she every 
now anl then did, at the ** Cadran UeuJ' a noted tavern 
in the Champs Elysdes, whence on a memorable occa- 

* *' Memoircs du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 21. 


sion, some eight years later, five hrmdred and odd Jlar- 
seillaise, who had marched up to Paris in defence of 
their fellow ** patriots," and whose march inspired the 
composition of the world-renowned Slarseillaise Hymn, 
rushed forth on the grenadiers of the Filles Saint- 
Thomas section, and drove them pell-mell over the 
drawbridge of the Tuileries. Other friends of the 
countess's tell, too, of frequent loans of ten, fifteen, or 
twenty francs at a time, all of which is tolerable 
evidence of semi-starvation and penury rather than of 
an abundance or even a suflSeiency of means. 

Spite, nevertheless, of the limited nature of their 
resources, there is no doubt but that when the De la 
Mottes had regularly settled down in the Rue Neuve- 
Saint-Gilles, they made pretensions to something like 
display. They borrowed, for instance, a service of 
silver plate of a friend — a M. de Vieilleville ; and 
according to the countess's own statement, M. de 
Calonne, at one of the interviews she succeeded in 
obtaining with him just after his appointment to 
the ofiSce of controleur-generdl^ plainly told her that 
she was only " shamming poverty," and commenced 
twitting her respecting her hotel at Paris, her cabriolet, 
her voiture, her travelling-carriage, and her servants in 
livery. To convince Calonne that whatever might be 
her style of living, she was nevertheless in great 
pecuniary difficulties, she took him one day the tickets 
for numerous articles of furniture pledged by her at the 


Mont de Piet^, and by this ruse succeeded in securing 
some small amount of ofiScial sympathy, which de- 
veloped itself in a gift of six hundred livres from the 
royal treasury, on the express condition, however, that 
she was to make no further appeals. 

Soon after the countess had become regularly resi- 
dent in the Rue Neuve-Saint-Gilles, she was a frequent 
attendant at mass at a convent of Minimes, on the 
opposite side of the way, which has long since been 
demolished, and barracks for gendarmerie erected on its 
site, but the remembrance of which is still preserved in 
the nomenclature of several of the adjacent streets. A 
certain Father Loth having his eye upon this interest- 
ing addition to the common fold, made her an offer of 
a key by means of which she might let herself into 
the chapel to the ten o'clock mass, which he explained 
to her was only attended by persons of her own condi- 
tion. The countess accepted the offer, and a kind of 
acquaintanceship sprang up between Father Loth and 
her, which resulted in the former becoming a constant 
visitor at the De la Mottes, and insinuating himself 
into the confidence of the family; and subsequently, 
when brighter days dawned upon them, ofiSciating as a 
sort of intendant of their household. 

Although the countess went constantly to Versailles, 
in the hope of obtaining by some lucky chance access 
to the queen, she seems to have been baffled in all her 
efforts. She had scraped acquaintance with Desclos, 


one of the queen's pages, at a man-midwife's at Ver- 
sailles,* and was on gossiping terms with the gate- 
keeper of the Little Trianon, but could make no further 
advance at court, until by a lucky chance she one day 
succeeded in penetrating into the apartments of one of 
the princesses. Here, whilst waiting among other 
visitors for her turn to be introduced, she suddenly fell 
down like a person fainting from weakness, and other- 
wise exhibited symptoms of great suffering. Her 
poverty being known, there was instantly a rumour 
afoot that common hunger was the cause of this de- 
bility. The incident produced considerable excitement 
in the court circle, and news reaching the ears of the 
Countess de Provence that a lady of rank had fainted in 
the saUe d'attente from lack of sustenance, she flew to 
her assistance, and after treating her with all the ten- 
derness that humanity dictated, gave her some twelve 
or fifteen louis to relieve her necessities. The countess, 
much affected by the occurrence, is said to have men- 
tioned it on the following day to Marie-Antoinette, 
who was about to yield to the impression it made upon 
her sensibility ; but Louis XVL, who had received so 
many of the countess's petitions, and had been, one may 
suppose, sufiSciently bored thereby, had conceived a 
strong prejudice against both the countess and her 
pretensions, and pronounced her swoon a mere ruse to 

♦ ** Memoirs of Marie- Antoinette," by Madame Campan, vol. ii. 
p. 17. 


extort money. The result was that the queen closed 
her purse-strings, and Madame de la Motte took little 
or nothing by her move. Most persons in her situation, 
after this signal failure, would have considered their 
struggle for court favour as fairly concluded, but it was 
far from being so with her. She was one of those indo- 
mitable spirits gifted with a pertinacity which no mere 
rebuff could check, no disappointment discourage. 

For some time past the countess had made a point 
of laying siege to one controller-general after another — 
first to M. Joly de Fleury, then to M. d'Ormesson, and 
finally to M. de Calonne, in whose antechamber she 
was a constant attendant, and whom she so pestered 
with her petitions and memorials and personal appeals 
for relief, spite of the understanding come to when the 
six hundred francs were given to her, that she became 
at length a kind of terror to the minister, who showered 
gold around him with easy facility from a bankrupt 
exchequer, when, as a courtier said, "All the world 
held out its hand, but I held out my hat." To rid 
himseK of the countess's importunities, and urged by 
Madame Elisabeth and the Countess de Provence (wjio 
since the fainting scene had taken some kind of interest 
in her) to do something towards her relief, M. de 
Calonne obtained an augmentation of seven hundred 
francs (twenty-eight poimds) to the De la Motte pension. 
Instead, however, of feeling in any degree grateful for 
this act of favour, the countess tells us that when the 


minister commimicated the intelligence to her she in-' 
dignantly refused this " pitiful addition," as she callc<l it, 
"to her income." Visions of the restoration of tJuj 
Essoyes, Fontette and Verpiliere ostatc*s ha^l bo(;n float- 
ing before her eyes, and in the heat of her passion she 
exclaimed, " I will oblige you, sir, to spf^ak of niy de- 
mands to the king. Tell him, sir, that I will fix my- 
self in this house" — the palace of Versailles — "until 
he thinks proper to provide me with anoth'-r h^/roe,** 
And the irate countess in acr-r/rlancrj with her thffihi 
did actually remain for several houre, but at last t/x/k \tf^ 
departure, because, as sLe naively r^rmark^f, h^rf fnfihhT 
continuance tier*- - woTijd i^^ve aumer^rd wj \nr\^0fz''* 
It must Lave beiei. a:x:rt trJ.* >-Ti</J tLsit x\j: ^tfj^SiU^m, 
haiaaseri It pec:;iiiirr 'ii:r.'5*-::>re, ituA Cf:^.n:/iS^i V> 
exhaust every i-LskZi-ir vf r;...-r: tLsi ^i'/'ji^^A^ifi jKJVz-i'^ 
Tentup&i jzi*'.^ ic iT'peL v, Jf.i. :-iaue S/^^fAirrr^ Xc^ jxU: 
king's h&iisLe>i il^^:*«** v;jv '.-viiiSf ^m *rv.'-iwr vj/;f, Vyr 
skirts o^^ite et'.irr. tt *iiir '-t-'vi -li'. ,;r,-.v /x- ;.*•? ''"j^rAXr'xy 
pAvSkmo; Li:>rTrf j'Oni^^ vr.i.u. f^^j-^iv/: v,* Vi:-'i[jfc,;.j>yt, 

•B-jit-jW'trrL it'"- jun.A .1' l^wwik .u* ^*»5'*-/>'jv^«^^ ; vut 
MaCium^ Ln-'ju*^ ^luu/.m: '.-.vrji .ut «*\4oi:'«t ^«f^»*;ruiiAfUr 


'thought her little fitted for the' post she sought to fill> 
and told her that she was not at that moment in want 
of a companion, adding sarcastically that if she were, 
she was not great lady enough to engage one of so 
high a quality as a descendant of the house of Valois. 
Nothing disconcerted, the countess called a second 
time a few days afterwards, and made a pitiable appeal 
to the Dubarry to support her claims at court, shedding 
floods of tears as she spoke. But as soon as her back 
was turned, *'La Faiblesse," as Marie- Antoinette was 
accustomed to style the Dubarry, and whose heart was 
none of the most susceptible, bored by the countess's 
melting display, and caring not a straw for the house of 
Valois or any of its bastard descendants, flung both 
petition and memoir, which the countess had presented 
to her, into the fire.* 

The countess now addressed herseK to the Duchess 
de PoUgnac, the well-known favourite of Marie- Antoi- 
nette, and whose influence oyer her royal mistress, when- 
ever she chose to exercise it, was believed to be supreme. 
The duchess, however, got rid of her once for all with 
this freezing reply : " Madame, the duchess is too much 
engaged for other persons to oblige Madame de la 
Motte in any claim which she may have to make of the 
king or the queen, who is already fatigued with 
numberless applications." The descendant of the house 

• Deposition de la Comtesse du Barry, 


of Yalois was cat to the quick at the treatment she 
leceived at the hands of " this imperious woman, whose 
hanghty demeanour sufficiently characterizes her gro- 
velling extraction. Was this the woman," she exclaims, 
"whom in my humble station of mantua-maker's 
apprentice I had so frequently waited upon from 
Madame Boussel's to obtain payment, and who then 
instead of money could pay me with courtesy and fair 
promises ? Is this she who before the smile of royal 
favour no tradesman chose to trust, and even her 
mantua-maker refused to work for, who had not even a 
habit to be presented in at court?'* 

Sick at -heart, weary almost unto death, the wretched 
woman saw no escape from the pecuniary embarrass- 
ments that threatened to overwhelm her, except in 
suicide. Providing herself, she tells us, with a couple 
of loaded pistols she bent her steps towards a wood 
about a league distant from Versailles, and passing 
through the park, came to a large and deep pit, which 
had formerly been a stone quarry. Here she prepared 
to carry her resolution into eflFect, and had placed one 
of the pistols to her right ear when thoughts of her 
husband stayed her hand. Flinging herself on the 
ground she wept long and bitterly, and then oflFered 
up a fervent prayer. On becoming more calm she re- 
turned home, still however mourning her unhappy fete.t 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself,'* vol. i. p. 265, et seq, 
t Ibid. vol. i. p. 276. 

■ > 'X*-^-' ■ 





While the events narrated in the last chapter have 
been transpiring, let us see how it has fiared with our 
friends the crown jewellers and their Dianiond.Necklace. 
M. Bassenge, after scouring Europe through, and 
ascending and descending principal and back staircases 
innumerable, and dancing wearying attendance in court 
saloons and antechambers, has returned home without 
eflfecting a sale. " Not a crowned head of them can 
spare the eighty thousand pounds. The age of Chivalry 
is gone, and that of Bankruptcy is come. A dull deep- 
presaging movement rocks all thrones : Bankruptcy is 
beating down the gate, and no chancellor can barricade 
her out. She will enter, and the shoreless fire-lava of 
Democracy is at her back. Well may kings a second 
time ' sit still with awful eye,' and think of far other 
things than necklaces."* 

Bassenge's mission having been without result, let us 

* Carlyle's " Critical and Miscellaneous Essays/' vol. iv. p. 11. 


tom to H. Bohmer, and see what kind of lack has 
attended his efforts. On the 22nd of October, 1781, 
the Queen of France gave birth to a dauphin. Bdhmer, 
who felt this to be a favourable opportunity for him to 
renew his application, flew to the palace with his casket 
under his arm, and saw the king, at that moment the 
happiest man in the land. Louis XYI. received the 
jeweller with much condescension, and taking the 
casket from him, carried it to the queen, teUing her, 
with animated looks, that he had got a present for her. 
But Marie-Antoinette had no sooner recognised the 
gorgeous gem which she had formerly rejected than 
she refused to receive it, even at the king's hands ; nor 
could the most earnest solicitations on his part abate 
in the smallest degree the feeling of antipathy with 
which, guided by her prophetic instincts, she seems 
to have regarded the fatal jewel. 

"Is it," asked she, "that Bohmer may take his 
daughter covered with diamonds to the opera, that you 
would pay him for his folly in manufacturing this 
Necklace ?' 

WTiile uttering these words the queen was greatly 
excited. Her nurse felt her pulse, and finding it very 
high begged the king not to insist further. Louis XVI. 
withdrew completely disconcerted.* 

Now Bohmer, the crown jeweller, was a Saxon, and 

* "Memoires de Mdlle. Bertin," p. 92. 


we all know that the Saxons are a persevering race who 
do not readily desist from a pursuit. Besides he had 
gained a step ; the king had as good as sanctioned the 
purchase ; he was won over, and in due time the queen 
might be brought to relent and consent to become the 
possessor of the most splendid set of brilliants in the 
world. Moreover she was known at one time to have 
entertained a woman's partiality for costly jewels. What 
could be the reason of her present antipathy ? Was it 
natural in one so young and handsome? Was it 
consistent ? Was it, indeed, sincere ? 

This persecution of Marie-Antoinette, which had 
begun in 1774, was continued for ten years ; and every 
time the palace guns announced a new accouchement 
the indefatigable Bohmer, his casket under his arm, 
had been the first to carry his loyal congratulations 
to the feet of his sovereign. In due time ihe crown 
jeweller became noted for this kind of loyalty, so that 
whenever he was met with in the streets of Versailles, 
certain wags used to point him out and ask each other, 
" Serait ce la Beine qui accouche?'^ 

Madame Campan, in her well-known work, assures 
us that this persistent Saxon was for a long time the 
plague of the queen's life. She relates, among other 
instances of Bohmer's persecution, that he one day 
presented himself before her majesty, who had the 
young princess her daughter with her at the time, in 
a state of unusual excitement. Throwing himself at 


the queen's feet, he burst into tears, and exclaimed 
that he could put off his creditors no longer, that he 
was a ruined man unless she took compassion on him 
and became the purchaser of his Necklace, that if she 
rejected his appeal he would throw himself into the 
Seine, and so put an end to his misery. The queen 
reproved him mildly for his rash threat, but at the 
same time told him that if he were madman enough to 
put an end to his existence, it would not be she who 
was responsible for the misfortune. She reminded him 
that she had not given the order for the jewel, and 
advised him to extricate himself from his difiSculties by 
taking the Necklace to pieces and disposing of the 
diamonds piecemeal.* 

Mademoiselle Bertin, the queen's milliner, pretends 
that at the time she was engaged in preparing the 
wedding trousseau of the bride of the Infant of Portu- 
gal, M. de Souza, the Portuguese ambassador, confided 
to her that he was commissioned by his sovereign to 
buy for her the most magnificent present which could 
be met with in all Paris, and that he had decided upon 
purchasing the crown jewellers' Diamond Necklace. 
Mdlle. Bertin mentioned the circumstance to Marie- 
Antoinette the following day, while engaged with her at 
her toUette. 

" I am very glad of it," observed the queen. " I 

♦ " Memoirs of Marie-Antoinette," by Madame Campan, vol. ii. 
pp. 5, 6. 

VOL. I. G 


shall send for Bohmer, and will certainly thank M. de 
Souza for having relieved me of this hateful Necklace." 
When Bohmer entered, the queen took up a book 
and read for some minutes before speaking, as her habit 
was when she wished to evince her displeasure, which, 
on this occasion, must have been the result either of 
inexplicable caprice or femim'ne jealousy at a foreign 
princess becoming the possessor of that jewel to which 
the negotiations and travels of Bohmer and Bassenge 
had given a kind of European celebrity, and which had 
caused such a sensation among queens and women. At 
length, laying down her book and casting on Bohmer a 
severe glance, she observed : 

" I am very glad to hear, sir, that you have sold your 

" My Necklace, madame !" replied the astonished 

" Yes, your Necklace, that M. de Souza is about to 
send to Lisbon." 

Bohmer having given an emphatic denial to the 
story, the queen, we are told, cast on Mdlle. Bertin a 
withering look, as if to reproach her for having need- 
lessly alarmed her. 

There was a reception that day, and when M. de Souza 
appeared, the queen, contrary to all the rules of court 
etiquette, went straight up to him and said, briskly :< 

" I have to inform you, M. de Souza, that you will 
not have the Necklace ; it is sold." 


M. de Souza appearing astonished, 

" You will not have it, sir," continued she, in a tone 
of triumph. "I am sorry for it." Saying which she 
returned to her ladies.* 

Thus matters stood at the close of 1783, ten years 
aft^r the order for this ill-fated jewel had been given by 
the infatuated lover of Madame Dubarry. Although 
all France was at this time wildly rejoicing over the 
recently concluded peace between France and England, 
there was gloom and depression at the Grand Balcony 
in the Rue Vendome, for creditors were still urgent and 
even threatening, and the question again arose : " What 
is now to be done T 

* " Mdmoires de Mdlle. Bertin," p. 99, et seq. Certain French 
bibliographers have pronounced these memoirs to be forged. In 
quoting from them, however, we are only following in the steps of M. 
Louis Blanc, who we presume considers them authentic. From the 
" Mdmoire" forwarded to the queen by the crown jewellers on Au- 
gust, 12, 1785, it would appear that negotiations for the sale of the 
Necklace had been opened with the Court of Spain and not the Court 
of Portugal, as stated in the Bertin "M^moires," which circum- 
stance certainly goes a good way to impugn their authenticity. 






In the preceding chapters we have measured the 
period between the year 175(5, when Jeanne de Saint- 
Kemi, now Countess de la Motte of her own creation, 
was bom, and the close of the year 1783, when she had 
reached the age of twenty-seven years. We have 
mtnessed the destitution of her early days, the depen- 
dence of her youth on the kind bounty of a noble 
benefactress, and the career of adventure and pre- 
carious means suddenly plunged into to avoid a life of 
religious seclusion. We have seen her making her 
escape from Hagrant shame by an improvident mar- 
riage ; have seen the opening of her conjugal life 
darkened by a new term of penury and privation, miti- 
gated only by a system of constant appeals for charity. 
We have also seen that a long and patient probation in 
the same course had proved barren and abortive in the 


end, hCT condition being then precisely the same as it 
was in the beginning. We can readily conceive that 
her name and her pretensions had at length come to be 
r^arded as little else than a by-word and a nm'sance, 
and that the time was at hand when the former would 
haye no other influence beyond provoking indignation 
and contempt 

The family resources prove<i so far insufiScient, that 
early in the year 1784 household goods and wearing 
apparel were alike in pa^n at the 3Iont de Piet^S, which 
is hardly to be wondered at, as the winter was one of 
unprecedented severity. Heavy and constant falls of 
snow rendered any kind of traflic through the streets 
of Paris impracticable. The Seine, too, was frozen over, 
so that the transport of provisions — ^and, worst of all, of 
fire-wood — to the capital, was entirely stoppe 1.* The 
times were of the hardest : the winter extended far 
into the year, and in the month of April the countess 
soUcited and obtained permission to alienate her own 
and her brother's pension — the sister we presume was 
obstinate, and would not dispose of hers, hence her being 
sent adrift to shift for herself, and becoming an inmate of 
the Abbey of Jarcy — ^to a goldsmith and money-lender, 
named Grenier, for the sum of nine thousand franc8.t 
This amount, however, was insufiScient to liquidate 

* " Louis XVI.,' par Alexandre Dumas, vol. iii. p. 1, e/ «ey, 
t " Memoire pour le Cardinal de Kohan,** p. 11 ; and D<;|x>»ition de 



the entire of their debts, and at midsummer the coun- 
tess was forced to borrow three hundred francs from 
Father Loth to pay her quarter's rent.* The two 
pensions utterly gone, beggary and open vagrancy loom 
in the distance, for the cardinal's gifts, however hand- 
some they may have been at this period, go but a small 
way now that ever-increasing debt is supplemented by 
habitual extravagance. In a few months more the 
Avretched adventurers will be forced to quit their 
*^ spacious appartemeni " in the Kue Neuve-Saint-Gilles, 
and go forth into the streets and highways, and in the 
name of Valois again implore charity of the passing 
stranger. What remedy — ^what desperate remedy could 
be devised to prevent this ? 

The countess's interview with the Countess de Pro- 
vence, after the fainting scene, had made some little 
noise, and reports were spread to the effect that 
Madame Elisabeth, the king's sister, had since received 
her on several occasions, and had promised to support 
her claim foi: the recovery of the Valois estates, and to 
recommend her case again to the queen. We have no 
means of judging whether these reports were true, but 
as Madame Campan admits Madame Elisabeth to have 
been the countess's "protectress," there was in all 
probability some real foundation for them. Shortly 
after\vards, however, other reports got into circulation, 

* Deposition dii Pere Loth. 


which were undoubted fabrications. The purport of 
these was, that Madame de la Motte had been honoured 
by the notice of Marie-Antoinette, that she was re- 
ceived privately at the Petit Trianon, and was rising 
rapidly in the royal favour. To give an an- of pro- 
bability to this assertion, the countess, who had con- 
trived to scrape acquaintance with the gatekeeper of 
the Trianon, managed to be seen occasionally stealing 
out from thence, as though returning from one of these 
pretended interviews with royalty. 

No sooner did it get bruited abroad that the Countess 
de la Motte had credit at court than she was applied to 
by that busy and motley group of suitors — some of them 
in search of places and appointments, others in quest of 
patronage for new inventions, or on the look-out for op- 
portunities to submit new schemes of taxation and 
finance, and others again seeking redress of real or 
fancied grievances — ^who gather together in the vici- 
nage of royalty. The daring woman saw her chance, 
and entering boldly on a career of imposture, began to 
traffic on a credit that had no foundation, and to sell an 
influence which she could not exercise. This new vo- 
cation bid fair to prove a much readier source of emolu- 
ment than her state petitions for relief. People came to 
her of their own accord, waited in her ante-chamber for an 
interview, conjured and supplicated her to lend them her 
protection, and in the meantime to permit them to show 
their gratitude by anticipation, and in a substantial form. 


In this new line of business she was assisted by an 
old acquaintance and former comrade of her husband's 
in the gendarmerie^ one Eetaux de Villette, son of a late 
director-general of excise at Lyons, and at this time about 
thirty years of age. Villette left Lyons when a lad, and 
accompanied his mother to Troyes, where he completed 
his education. His sister having married a captain of 
artillery, and being himself inclined to a military career, 
he followed his brother-in-law to the schools of Douai 
and Bapaume, and when this latter establishment was 
suppressed, entered the gendarmerie, where he formed a 
sort of intimacy with M. de la Motte — an intimacy 
which was afterwards renewed at Bar-sur-Aube, whither 
his mother had removed from the neighbouring town of 
Troyes. Villette having exhausted the paternal patri- 
mony, had come to Paris to push his fortunes. His 
ambition was to obtain a sub-lieutenancy in the mar- 
shalsea, still he was not averse to turning his hand to 
anything that oflFered itself. He was not deficient in 
talent, and had command of a certain facility, for he 
wrote sprightly articles in the Gazette^ could compose 
plefising enough verses, and was a very fair musician,* 
Nevertheless he was one of those indolent, careless men, 
without the slightest forethought, who cannot follow 
any regular calling, because they are only stirred into 
activity by sudden caprices, and who too often serve no 

♦ " Marie- Antoinette et le Proces du Collier," par E. Campardon 
p. 44. 


other purpose beyond replenishing the world's stock of 
rascaldom, and doing their best to save it from dying 
out Findmg that he was a suppliant for court favour, 
Madame de la Motte first of all persuaded him that 
she could advance his interests, then that she would 
procure for him some better post than a sub-lieutenancy 
in the marshalsea, and finally engaged him as her 
secretary, and by dint of " her piquant face, her bright 
and piercing eyes, her white and transparent skin, her 
fine teeth, her enchanting smile, her pretty hand and 
little foot, her graceful manner, and natural wit," soon 
enrolled him as one of her lovers.* 

We will here let the countess give her own account 
of her pretended intimacy with Marie-Antoinette, an 
intimacy which it is impossible to believe in for a single 
moment, since those who lived in the queen's service 
and society were unanimous in maintaining that the 
countess was never once admitted to the queen's pre- 
sence, nor seen in the company of any lady of her court. 

" One day," she observes, " as I was paying my court 
to Madame (the Countess de Provence), I was attacked 
with a sudden indisposition (the fainting fit of which 
we have already spoken), which made some noise at the 
palace ; the queen, having become acquainted with the 
incident, deigned to evince some interest in me; her 
majesty even sent for Madame Patri, the principal 

* Vide **Memoire8 du Comte Beugnot ** and ** Villette's Memoir© 


femme de chambre of Madame, to ascertain the par- 

"Nothing can escape the eyes of courtiers. They 
remarked from that hour, that her majesty always 
distinguished me by a gracious look, whenever I ap- 
peared in her presence. The Cardinal (de Kohan) sur- 
passed everybody in giving full rein to his conjectures. ' 

"As I had received his benefits, the most natural 
gratitude linked me to his fate ... for him I had no 
secrets ; he had none for me ... his ambition was to 
be prime minister, mine to be a lady of influence at 
Fontette. ... 

** Nothing could equal the astonishment into which I 
was thrown one day, when having placed myself in the 
line of the queen's passage, her majesty condescended to 
honour me with one of those smiles which are so hard 
to be resisted. I remember that the next moment, 
having chanced to raise my eyes towards him (the 
cardinal), I saw his own sparkle with delight. * Do you 
know, countess,' said he, * that my fortune is made, it is 
in your hands along with your own.' ... He told 
me I ought not to hesitate to throw myself at the 
queen's feet on the 2nd of February, during the proces- 
sion of the blue ribbons. . . . Accustomed to be guided 
entirely by him, I promised to do what he enjoined me. 

"The important day arrived ... I went to the 
palace in full dress, and waited in one of the saloons for 
the return of the procession. When the queen was 


passiiig, I flung m3^elf at her feet, and delivering my 
petition, said to her, in a few words, that I was de- 
scended fix>m the house of Yalois ; that as such I had 
been acknowledged by the king ; that the fortune of my 
ancestors not having been transmitted to me along with 
their title, I had no other resource than the king's 
munificence ; that ha^-ing found every one of the avenues 
leading to her majesty unrelentingly closed against me, 
despair had driven me at last to take the present step. 

^The queen raised me up with kindness, took my 
petition, and, perceiving that I trembled, deigned to bid 
me be of good cheer. She then passed on, telling me to 
be at ease, and assured me that due attention should be 
paid to the object of my request** 

In the first private interview she pretends to have 
had with the queen, the countess relates that Marie- 
Antoinette said to her : 

" ' I have read your memorial, the object of which is to 
urge the minister to act and bestir himself with respect 
to the property which belonged to your house. Having 
some private reasons not to second your views ... I 
cannot reconcile the desire I may have to ser\'e you 
publicly, with the inclination I feel to see you in 
private . . . but I shall still be able to render you 
indirectly the services you nish to obtain from me.' . . , 
Her majesty concluded by presenting me with a purse.** * 

* ** Memoires Justificatiik de la Comtease de la Motte," pp. 


A few days afterwards, she tells us, she was summoned 
to repair to the Little Trianon, between eleven and 
twelve o'clock at night ! when she received fresh proofs 
of the queen's generosity. " She presented me at part- 
ing," says the countess, '^ with a pocket-book containing 
ten thousand livres (francs) on the caisse cCescompte, 
and concluded by saying : ' We shall meet again.' "* 
Madame de la Motte then goes on to state that it is need- 
less to tire the reader with a repetition of the frequent 
interviews she had with the queen, of whose mimificence 
on these occasions she received frequent proofs. " The 
Cardinal de Kohan," she says, "marked her growing 
favour, and insisting that his fortune was in her hands, 
conjured her to let no opportunity slip of mentioning 
his name to his sovereign." 

Let us turn now to the other side of the picture, and 
see what is said by persons likely to be well informed, 
as well as by Marie-Antoinette herself, respecting this 
pretended intimacy. 

Lacretelle, whose truth and honesty are beyond ques- 
tion, says " the Countess de Valois never had the least ac- 
cess to this princess," and that " one cannot read this libel 
(the Countess's Memoirs) without being convinced that the 
queen never had any kind of communication with these 
creatures, whose presence would have defiled the throne." t 

♦ " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 291. 
t "L'Histoire de France pendant le XVIIP sifecle," par C. Lacre- 
telle, vol. vi. pp. 114, 120. 


The Baron de Besenval speaks of the countess in 
his Memoirs as " one of those creatures who live by 
intrigue and the sale of their charms." * Was such a 
person likely to have been received privately at the 
Trianon ? The Baron de Besenval was a regular visitor 
there himself, and would have heard of this strange and 
familiar intercourse if it had ever existed. 

Whsit does Madame Campan, first femme de chamhre 
to the queen, who enjoyed the confidence of her royal 
mistress, and was, moreover, constantly in her company, 
and who, biased though she may seem to be in her 
favour, invariably speaks what she believes to be the 
truth — what does she say respecting this tissue of 
invention ? 

** Neither the queen herself, nor any lady about her, 
ever had the slightest connection with the swindler, and 
during her prosecution she could only point out one of 
the queen's servants (a man named Declos or Leclos), a 
page of the queen's chamber, to whom she pretended 
she had delivered Bohmer's Necklace . . . Declos, on 
being confronted with the woman La Motte, proved that 
she had never seen him but once, which was at the 
house of the wife of a surgeon-accoucl^r at Versailles, 
and that she had not given him the Necklace." Madame 
Campan further states that the countess "had never 
even been able to make her way into the room appro- 

♦ " Memoires du Baron de Besenval," vol. iii. p. 122. 


priated to the queen^s women." The same lady also 
famishes this additional piece of testimony: 

" The queen," she says, '^ in vain endeavoured to call 
to mind the features of this person, whom she had often 
heard spoken of as an intriguing woman, who came 
frequently on Sundays to the gallery at Versailles ; and 
at the time when all France was taken up with the prose- 
cution against the cardinal, and the portrait of the Coun- 
tess de la Motte-Valois was publicly sold, her majesty 
desired me one day when I was going to Paris to buy 
her the engraving, which was said to be a tolerable 
likeness, that she might ascertain whether she could 
recollect in it any person whom she had seen in the 
gallery." * 

Marie-Antoinette herself, when questioned by Louis 
XVI. on the subject of this intimate acquaintance, 
assured the king that she had never seen the woman. 
In a few simple words she repeats her denial when con- 
fronted with the Cardinal de Rohan, immediately pre- 
ceding his arrest. And in a private letter to her sister, 
written at a time when the affair of the Diamond Necklace 
was making a great noise throughout Europe, Marie- 
Antoinette thus, denies all previous knowledge of her 
pretended confidante : 

" I have never seen this woman La Motte ; it seems 
she is an adventuress of the lowest class, with a good 

* " Memoirs of !Marie-Antoinette," by Matlame Campan, vol. ii. 
pp. 17, 19, 291. 


address and a bold air ; she has been seen two or three 
times on the back staircase of the Cour des Princes; 
this is a scheme agreed on to deceive her dupes and to 
spread the belief that she is received in my closet. The 
Duke de Nivernois on this occasion has told me that an 
adventuress from Paris had made her fortune in the 
days of Madame de Maintenon by seating herself twice 
a week on the stairs ; one day she found the drawing- 
room of that lady open; she went in, and seeing no 
one near she walked up to the balcony over the Place 
d'Armes, thus proclaiming to every one that she was in 
favour with Madame de Maintenon. We are sur- 
rounded in this place by persons of that class." * 

Again, at the very last, only a few hours before her 
head was severed from her body by the guillotine, she 
still firmly repudiated all knowledge of any such indi- 
vidual. Let us refer to the report in the Moniteur of 
the " Proces de Marie-Antoinette,^^ and see what trans- 
pired in reference to the matter. 

^^Tfie president to the accused : Was it not at the Little 
Trianon that you first met with the woman La Motte ? 

" The accused : I never once saw her. 

" The president : Was she not your victim in the 
business of the famous Necklace ? 

"jf%e accused: She could not have been, since she 
was unknown to me. 

* " Corrcspondance Inedite de Marie- Antoinette," par Comte P. 
Vogt d'Himolstein, p. 141. 


" The president : So then you persist in denying that 
you were acquainted with her ? 

"The aecvsed : Mine is not a system of denial ; what 
I have said is .the truth, and that I will persist in." 

Of course it was the truth; had it not been, Fouquier 
Tinville had abundant means of proving the contrary ; 
all France in these days was overrun with spies and 
informers. The public accuser had really no facts 
to allege against the prisoner in regard to Madame 
de la Motte, and confessed he had not when ordered to 
bring the queen to trial. Had there been the least 
particle of evidence to prove Marie-Antoinette's inti- 
macy with so abandoned* a woman, the attorney-general 
of the Kevolutionary Tribunal would have been only too 
glad to have brought it forward. He had not far to go, 
for among the witnesses actually produced were the 
Count d'Estaing, formerly in command at Versailles, 
who knew both the queen and the countess, and was 
a frequent dinner-guest of the latter in the Eue Neuve- 
Saint-Gilles ; and Kenee Sevin, for six years under 
femme de chamhre to Marie-Antoinette, yet to neither 
of these did he put a single question upon the subject. 
Again, there was Keine Millot, another old servant 
at Versailles, " bonne citoyenne, excellente patriote'* who 
did her best to sacrifice her unhappy mistress, deposing 
that the Count de Coigny had told her that the queen 
had sent two hundred million francs to her brother, 
the Emperor Joseph, to enable him to make war upon 

oomrr dk la wotte oould dbposb to soTHOia 97 

the Tnrks^ and that she would end by mming Fnnce ; 
and further, that she knew from different peofde that 
the queen had conceived the design of asBaasinating the 
Duke d'Orl^anSy which when the king heard of, he 
ordered her to be immediately searched, and two pistols 
being foimd upon her, he commanded her to remain 
in her own apartment for the space of fifteen days.* 
A witness such as this would have been only too eager 
to repeat all the scandal current at Versailles respect- 
ing the Countess de la Motte and the queen. Moreover, 
Count de la Motte himself was known to be living 
at Bar-sur-Aube at the time of the queen's trial, and 
could have been readily enough produced, only Fouquier 
Tinville was perfectly well aware that he could depose 
to nothing incriminatory in the slightest degree of her 
whose death, though already determined on, the revolu- 
tionary party would have been glad enough to have 
justified on such a poor pretence even as her complicity 
in the Necklace fraud. 

♦ " Proces de Marie- Antoinette," Paris, 1865, pp. 40, 64, 65. 







Strange to say, among the tribe of solicitors who put 
faith in the report of Madame de la Motte's intimacy 
with Marie- Antoinette, and sought to turn it to their own 
advantage, and certainly by far the most sanguine of 
them all, was her " friend " and benefactor, Louis Ken6 
^ifedouard de Rohan, Cardinal of the Holy Eoman Church, 
Bishop and Prince of Strasbourg, Prince of Hildesheim, 
Landgrave of Alsace, Grand Almoner of France, Com- 
mander of the Order of the Holy Ghost, Commendator 
of St. Waast d' Arras, Superior-general of the Royal 
Hospital of the Quinze-Vingts, Abbe of the Chaise-Dieu, 
Master of the Sorbonne, Member of French Academy, 
&c., &c. The very man who had been wont to bestow 
alms upon a descendant of the house of Valois was now 
almost ready to cringe to the former recipient of his 
bounty for favour and support. This dissolute and 


intrigaiiig prelate, who was destined to attain soch 
unenviable notoriety thioogh his connection with the 
Countess de la Motte, was bom on the 27th of Septem- 
ber, 1734, and was at this period consequently verging 
on his fiftieth year. He was, as we have already men- 
tioned, a tall, stout, handsome-looking man, with a fresh 
coloured complexion, bold forehead, and white grey 
hair. His manners were amiable ; he was fluent in con- 
versation, and though his talents, as the upshot proves, 
were of a very inferior order, still he was not deficient in 
that dexterity which goes a long way towards fitting a 
man for the conduct of public business — he having, by 
the aid of his shrewd secretary, the Abbe Georgel, 
rather cleverly filled the post of ambassador at the court 
of Vienna for between two and three years. He had 
been sent to that court in January, 1772, to supersede 
the Baron de Breteuil, thereby making a mortal enemy 
of that minister, now in high favour with the sovereign. 
But this was not all. He had also incurred the dislike, 
and even hatred, of the Queen of France, partly in con- 
sequence of having repeated to the Empress Maria 
Theresa certain scandals current at the French court 
respecting the unbecoming levity of her daughter, 
then dauphiness, and partly in consequence of a letter 
written by him in an unguarded moment, which re- 
flected strongly on the duplicity of the empress with 
respect to Poland. In this letter he remarked that 
^ Maria Theresa stands, indeed, with the handkerchief 


in one hand, weeping for the woes of Poland, but with 
the sword in the other, ready to cut Poland into sections, 
and take her share,"* an observation in which there was 
not only point, but far too much truth for it to pass 
unnoticed. This letter was read and laughed over by 
Louis XV., and by him repeated to the Countess Dubarry 
at one of her petits soupers, and the countess, in her turn, 
gossiped about it, untU at length the affair became a 
court joke and reached the ears of the.dauphiness, who, 
repressing her indignation at the time, did not fail to 
treasure up the circumstance in her memory. 

In spite of this aversion on the part of the queen, and 
which, by the way, was fully shared by Louis XVL, tbe 
cardinal, whose ambition led him to covet the oflSce of 
prime minister, fondly hoped, sooner or later, to recover 
his ground. When therefore he heard, as very good care 
was taken he should very quickly hear, that a lady who 
stood in certain tender relations towards himself, and 
was under certain pecuniary obligations to him, was in 
favour with the queen, the credulous dotard suspected 
neither deception nor exaggeration in the report ; which 
perhaps was hardly surprising, for Nature, we are told, 
had given the soi-disUnt new favourite a frank and honest 
face in spite of her proficiency in the arts of deceit. 
"Without possessing the full splendour of beauty," 
observes the Abbe Georgel, " the Countess de la Motte 

* " Memoires pour servir a THistoire des Evdnements de la fin du 
XVIIP siecle," par I'Abbu Georgel, vol. ii. p. 220. 


was gifted with all the graces of youth, h^r coaDtenance 
was intelligent and attractive, and she expressed herself 
with fluency ; moreover, the air of trvik thai pervaded her 
reeitah invaridkiy carried eonvietion along with UP The 
cardinal, only too ready to be blinded and deluded, coun- 
selled his protegee how to proceed in order to retain and 
improve the position which he imagined she had already 
acquired, intending, without doubt, to avail himself of her 
interest to recover the good opinion of the queen, whose 
deep-rooted prejudice against him was the bane of his life. 
Madame Campan speaks of the cardinal as a spend- 
thrift, and a man of the most immoral character, whose 
mission to Vienna opened under the most unfavourable 
auspices, in consequence of the nature of the reputation 
which preceded his arrival at that court. " In want of 
money, and the house of Bohan being unable to make 
him any considerable advances, he obtained a patent 
which authorized him to borrow the sum of six hun- 
dred thousand livres (twenty-four thousand pounds) 
upon his benefices; nevertheless he ran into debt for 
upwards of another million, and thought to dazzle 
the city and court of Vienna by the most indecent, 
and, at the same time, the most iU-judged extrava- 
gance. He formed a suite of eight or ten gentle- 
men of names sufiBciently high sounding, twelve pages 
equally well bom, a crowd of officers and servants, 
together with a company of chamber musicians, and 
various other retainers. But this idle pomp did not last ; 


embarrassmeiit and distress soon showed themselves ; his 
people, no longer receiving pay, abused the ambassa- 
dorial privileges, and smuggled with so much eflfrontery 
that Maria Theresa, to put a stop to it without offending 
the court of France, was compelled to suppress the 
privileges in this respect of all the diplomatic bodies."* 
In these days an ambassador was not only required 
to be an adept in duplicity, but he was expected, by 
means of bribery, or other modes of corruption more or 
less dishonourable, to make himself master of all the 
secrets of the court to which he was accredited. The 
cardinal proved himself in this respect equal to the 
mission with which he was intrusted. At the com- 
mencement of the year 1774 he discovered that the Aus- 
trian minister. Prince de Kaunitz, had succeeded in 
purchasing keys of the ciphers in which the despatches 
that passed between the king and himself and the 
ambassadors at Constantinople, Stockholm, Dantzic, 
and St. Petersburg were written. He also discovered 
that the court of Vienna had obtained copies of and 
had deciphered all the despatches sent by the Duke 
d'AiguUlon to the various representatives of the court 
of Versailles throughout Northern Europe. He learnt, 
too, that the main offices of iuterception were Liege, 
Brussels, Frankfort, and Katisbon. At these places 
copies of despatches were taken and forwarded to what 

* " Memoii-s of Marie- Antoinette/^ by Mskdame tampan, vol. ii. 
p. 42. 


was styled the " Cabinet of Decipherers," a department 
of which Baron Peckler was the head* 

How it was that the cardinal came to make this im- 
portant discovery and to profit largely by it, as he even- 
tually managed to do, is quite a piece of romance. We 
will let the Abb6 Georgel, at that time secretary to the 
French embassy at Vienna, tell the story in his own 

" Keturning one evening to the hotel, the porter 
gave me a note carefully sealed up, and addressed to me. 
I read in it as follows : — ^ Be to-night, between eleven 
and twelve, at a particular place upon the ramparts, 
and you will be informed of matters of the very highest 
importance.' An anonymous note of this tenor, sent so 
mysteriously, and the unseasonable hour appointed, 
might have appeared to some persons altogether dan- 
gerous and suspicious. But I was not aware that I 
had any enemies, and, desirous not to have to reproach 
myself with having missed an opportunity that might 
never occur again of promoting the king's service, I 
determined to attend at the appointed place. But I 
took some prudential precautions, by placing within a 
certain distance, where they could not be seen, two per- 
sons on whom I could rely to come to my assistance 
upon a signal agreed on. I found at the place of meet- 
ing a man wrapped in a cloak, and masked. He put 

• " Mdmoires Historiques et Politiqnes du r^gne de Louis XVL," 
par TAbW Soulavie, vol. iii. p. 277, et seq. 


some papers into my hands, and said in a feigned 
undertone : * You have my confidence ; I will therefore 
contribute to the success of M. the Prince de Eohan's 
embassy. These papers will inform you of the very 
essential services which it is in my power to render 
you. If you approve of them, come again to-morrow 
to ' another place which he mentioned, ' and bring me a 
thousand ducats/ On my return to the Hotel de 
France, I hastened to examine the papers confided to 
me. Their contents gave me the most agreeable sur- 
prise. I saw that we had it in our power to procure 
twice a week copies of all the discoveries made by the 
secret cabinet of Vienna, which was the best served 
cabinet in Europe. This secret cabinet possessed in the 
highest degree the art of deciphering quickly the de- 
spatches of ambassadors and of the governments with 
whom they corresponded. I was convinced by the 
deciphering of our own despatches and the despatches 
of our court to us — even those written in the most com- 
plicated and the newest ciphers — that this cabinet 
had found means to intercept and obtain copies of 
the despatches of several European courts, of their 
envoys and agents, through the treachery and audacity 
of the frontier directors and postmasters, bribed for that 

"Furnished with these documents and armed with 
unquestionable proofs of their authenticity, I instantly 
went post haste to communicate them to the ambassador. 


I laid before him the samples of the political magazine, 
from which we might supply ourselves. The Prince de 
Rohan felt the value of it, especially to himself per- 
sonally, inasmuch as this important discovery must 
necessarily efface the unpleasant impressions which the 
Duke d'Aiguillon had not failed to make upon the 
king's mind, by representiog to him that Prince Louis, 
too light, and too much taken up with the pursuits of 
pleasure, was not so watchfiil at Vienna as the service 
of the state required. 

" I met the masked man the following night, and 
gave him the thousand ducats : when he handed to me 
other papers of increasing interest, and during my 
whole stay at Vienna he faithfully performed his 
promise. Our meetings took place twice a week, and 
always about midnight The ambassador wisely decided 
that the occupation arising from this discovery should 
be confined to him and to myself, with an old secretary 
whose discretion we knew would stand any trial. The 
secretary was employed in copying for our court the 
papers of the masked man, to whom we were obliged to 
return them. 

" A courier extraordinary was at once despatched to 
Versailles with the first fruits of our newly discovered 
treasure. He was ordered not to go to bed on his way, 
and to carry about his person the special packet of 
secret despatches to the very end of his journey. A 
separate letter communicated the manner in which this 



disclosure had been made to us. Our courier returned 
promptly, the bearer of a despatch from the Duke 
d'Aiguillon, which contained this acknowledgement of the 
cardinal's services: 'I sincerely and feelingly share,' said 
the minister, ' both in the satisfaction with which the king 
acknowledges your services, and the credit which this 
discovery throws upon your mission.' FrotQ the time 
of this discovery an extraordinary courier was sent off to 
Versailles every fortnight with new communications, 
and always with the same care and precautions as 

Soulavie tells us it was through the Austrian ambas- 
sador at Versailles, who, like the rest of his fraternity, 
had a whole host of traitorous oflBcials in his pay, that 
the court of Vienna got scent of what was going on. 
The Prince de Kaunitz, suspecting that the treachery 
was perpetrated in his oflBce, had the locks of his cabinet 
changed, and made a point of intrusting all the most 
important despatches to no one except his private 
secretary. He even went the length of having one 
of his clerks, of whom he entertained some suspicion, 
drowned in the Danube; but all was of no avail; 
the masked man, according to the Abbe Georgel, 
seemed even to redouble his zeal at each succeeding 

Two months after the death of Louis XV. the car- 

* " Memoires pour servir k THistoire des lilvcneraents de la fin du 
XV IIP siecle," par TAbbd Georgel, vol. i. p. 269, et seq. 


dinal was Bapeneded in his post He had hurried off 
to pay his court to the new king at Compiegne, where 
he was not long in becoming acquainted with the fact 
that the queen was his arowed enemv. He oUaiued 
an audience of Louis XVL, but it was brief, and by no 
means 8atisfactor}\ The king lii^ened for a few miDUtes 
to the cardinal's explanations, and then abruptly said, 
"I will let you know my pleasare.** As ft/r Marif^ 
Antoinette, she positively declined to rer^ive him, 
although he had a letter from her moth^^ the enifiress 
to deliver. The only notice she took of him was to 
desire that tliis letter might be sent to her. As a last 
resource he addressed a written commauir/atiou to tlie 
king, which Louis XVL did not condescend to answer 
The cardinal had now no louger any douU that his 
disgrace was determined apon« 

Although his do\iiiiall wsui really to be aseribd to the 
joint animosity of 3Iaria Theresa and her daugtit«.'r, the 
grounds publicly put forward for it were these. " First, the^ 
public gallantries (at Vienna; of Prince Louis with women 
of the court and others of less distinction ; secondly, his 
surliness and haughtiness towards other foreign minis- 
ters, which it was stated would have been attended with 
more serious consequences if the empress herself had 
not interfered ; thirdly, his contempt for religion in a 
country where it was particularly necessary to show 
respect for it (he had been seen frequently to dress 
himself in clothes of different colours, assuming the 


huntiBg uniforms of various noblemen whom he visited, 
with so much publicity that one day in particular, during 
the f Me Dieu, he and all his legation, in green uniforms 
laced with gold, broke through a religious procession 
which impeded them, in order to make their way to a 
hunting party at the Prince de Paar's) ; and foui*thly, 
the immense debts contracted by him and his people, 
which were tardily and only in part discharged.* 

* "Memoirs of Marie- Antoinette," by Madame Campan, voL i. 
p. 65. 





Before the close of spring in the year 1784, the 
countess has effectually built up her grand fabrication. 
Although she neglects no opportunity of giving out that 
the queen desires this pretended intimacy to be kept 
a profound secret, yet, like most other profound secrets, 
it becomes pretty generally known ; the imposture is es- 
tablished as a reality, and the Grand Almoner of France 
has been caught in the net. This singularly credulous 
individual, weighed down with places and honours, 
but ambitious of more, is led to believe, quite as much 
by his own folly as the countess's craft, that a channel 
has at length been opened for his reinstatement in the 
queen's favour, and his elevation to the office of prime 
minister. All the machinery set in motion by the 
impostor and her confederates to make money by the 
abuse of the queen's name is now directed witli both 



energy and skill upon the Prince de Kohan, whoso 
paternal hand is employed to diffiise the charities of « 
kingdom upon those suppliants who best understand 
how to represent their wants, and whose own annual 
revenue exceeds a million of francs (£40,000). 

Gradually, step by step, the vigilant schemer ad- 
vances, her dupe's fancy and conceit outstepping, the 
measured tread of the inventor, whose falsehoods are 
not poured forth fast enough to fill the wide throat 
of this insatiable gulL First she assures him that 
she has spoken and interceded for him with the queen, 
who listened to her with attention but evident sus- 
picion ; but after having heard of several instances of 
his benevolence to herself and other persons, the royal 
prejudice had given way. The cardinal of course 
takes heart at this assurance, and waits resignedly 
for the happy progress of a negotiation which had 
opened so promisingly. The countess thus describes 
one of these pretended interviews with Marie- Antoinette 
in her Memoirs : 

"In one of my interviews with her majesty, the 
queen inquired how I had supported myself before 
I was introduced to her. This was the moment for 
naming my benefactor, but it required some caution, 
lest the queen should discover that I was deeper in 
his confidence and counsels than it was proper for 
me to appear. I attempted, if possible, to avoid giving 
the least cause for suspicion, and expatiated largely, in 


general terms, on the cardinal's beneficence, charity, 
and beneyolence ; enumerated the services he had 
rendered to almost everyone that applied ; that from 
his generosity he had acquired the esteem he merited ; 
and spoke with a grateful warmth of the fiekvours he 
had heaped upon me. 

"Her majesty regarded me with a curious and 
penetrating eye: she paused for some minutes, and 
appeared buried in thought. This was the first moment 
of my mentioning the cardinal's name, and I had an 
opportunity of reading in her majesty's face such a 
degree of aversion that gave me a very unfavourable 
omen of success : the strength of her antipathy I was 
then first acquainted with. At length, awakening 
from her reverie, she expressed her surprise at the 
information I had given her. She did not think the 
cardinal capable of such actions."* 

In due time the grand almoner is informed that 
majesty has at last relented, having been of course 
won over by the countess's continuous praises of him, 
and by her assurances that he was far less culpable 
than he was represented to be by his enemies ; that he 
was full of penitence and remorse for any errors he 
might have committed ; that her majesty's aversion to 
him was his constant affliction; and that his health 
was yielding to this sorrow. 

♦ *' Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 294. 



" I am authorized by the queen," the countess 
cahnly said to him, "to request you to famish her 
with a written explanation of the faults imputed to 

In compliance with this demand, the cardinal de- 
livered to Madame de la Motte a lengthy exculpatory 
statement, the main purport of which was to accuse his 
niece, the Princess de Gudmende, of having intrigued to 
add to his disgrace at court while pretending to act as 
intercessor on his behalf. From time to time the 
princess appears to have allured him with specious 
promises of his ultimate restoration to royal favour, 
and the kind of return she exacted for her pretended 
good oflSces may be judged of from the following 
passage, which, as will presently appear, Madame de la 
Motte did not fail to note and profit by : " The princess 
was sensible of the excessive joy she gave me,* and 
availed herseK of it to request of me the loan of a pretty 
considerahle sum. 1 would have parted with my whole 
fortune, thinking myself too happy in being useful to a 
woman to whom I was so greatly beholden. The easy 
compliance she had met with enticed her to make 
further demands, which I could not refuse, she always 
knowing how to accompany them with hopes, with 

\^ * She had informed the cardinal that the queen had deigned to 
accept of a white Spanish dog which the cardinal- had offered to her 
through the princess. Of course Marie- Antoinette had done nothing 
of the kind. 


soothing promises, and at the same time with diffi- 
culties she would find ways to overcome."* It is 
inconceivable how, after feeling convinced that he had 
been the dupe of one designing woman, the cardinal 
could have been such a dotard as to have been again 
deluded by an intriguante who used precisely the same 
arts, and who exacted from him precisely the same 
kind of return. Such, however, was the case. 

About three weeks after the delivery of his written 
justification into the hands of Madame de la Motte, 
the grand almoner received a note, bordered with 
" vignettes Ueues^' purporting to be written by Marie- 
Antoinette, and which stated that she had read with 
indignation of the manner in which he had been 
deceived by his niece, assured him that she had 
forgotten all that had passed, and desired him never 
again to make the slightest allusion to a matter so 
unpleasant — a convenient way of tabooing a subject, 
the discussion of which might have proved extremely 
embarrassing to the countess, and have sooner or later 
exposed the fraud which was being practised upon the 
cardinal. This note wound up with the following 
passage, the motive of which the reader will be at no 
loss to divine: "The account which the countess has 
given me of your behaviour towards her has made a 
stronger impression on me than all that you have 

• "Li/fi of tbe Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. ii. p. 12, 

vet I 


written to me. I hope that you will never forget that 
it is to her you are indebted for your pardon."* 

The plot thickens : all at once we find ourselves in 
deeper water. Before we had false rumours and 
reports; now we have forged letters. The cardinal 
having received the first one as genuine, what is to 
prevent the success of others? Nothing, it would 
seem, so long as the countess exercises her customary 
discretion. Letters and replies thereupon follow each 
other in quick succession, amounting in course of time 
to something like a couple of hundred in number. Of 
these the countess pretended she preserved copies of 
thirty-one, which she subsequently printed by way of 
appendix tocher autobiography. Judging from these 
samples, the communications which, according to her 
assertions, passed between the queen and the cardinal, 
were not merely tender and familiar, but occasionally 
touched upon subjects that were positively indelicate.t 

It is needless to inform the reader that, so far as the 
letters attributed to Marie-Antoinette are concerned, 
they were one and all of them vile fabrications. They 
were penned, in fact, by the prospective sub-lieutenant 
of the marshalsea, of whom we have alrealy spoken, 
Eetaux de Villette, who was attached to the countess in 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. ii. p. 17, 

t A few of these letters are given in the Appendix to the present 


double capacity of "cavalier servente'' and secretary, 
and whose chief occupation seems to have consisted in 
forging letters on gilt-edged paper, or paper bordered with 
blue flowers (vignettes hleues). His cabinet de travail 
was madame's bedchamber, and he worked at a little 
table by the bedside, on which was a writing-case with 
a stock of note-paper, such as the queen was known to 
be in the habit of using.* Monsieur de Villette resided 
regularly under the De la Motte roof, for Jeanne de 
Saint -Kemi, Countess de Valois de la Motte, having 
considerable traflBc in forgery, found it necessary to 
keep a forger on the premises, just as other people find 
it requisite to keep a secretary or a clerk. 

If we glance behind the scenes, we cannot help being 
impressed by this daring woman's strength of mind, 
which enables her to work so calmly and leisurely while 
all the time the wolf is at the door. Not only has she her 
idle husband and herself to support, but there is at times 
her brother, whose pension she has sold, and her " secre- 
tary," and not a single franc of regular income ! To add to 
all this, she is in debt with the landlord, the tax-gatherer, 
and the tradespeople ; duns are calling upon her every 
hour — duns, too, are waiting in the ante-room while she 
is dictating forged letters to Villette. Her own pension 

* "Confrontation du Cardinal avec le P^re Loth." The latt<ir 
described the paper on which Villette wrote as being bordered with 
** vignettes bleues,** and in M. Feuillet de Conches' unique collection of 
autographs of Marie-Antoinette are several notes written by th^' 
queen on paper with coloured borders. 



and that of her brother being utterly gone, the family 
have literally no bread to eat but that of charity, and 
the bread of charity is so scanty and bitter that the 
descendant of the house of Valois becomes a liar and a 
forger, and is preparing to become a thief, in order to 
add to and sweeten it. And all this while, with her 
thread of life drawn, so to speak, to a single hair, she is 
the emblem of composure, advancing " stealthily, stead- 
fastly, with Argus eye and ever-ready brain — with 
nerve of iron, on shoes of felt !" whilst Cardinal Prince 
de Eohan, her father in years, who lives in palaces sur- 
rounded by every luxury, holds one of the highest offices 
in the state, is superior of numerous important religious 
establishments and seigneur of countless manors, and has 
a revenue of a million francs, is feverish with impa- 

According to his usual practice, the cardinal, with 
Versailles and the Little Trianon closed against him, is 
spending the sultry summer-time in retirement at his 
stately palace of Saverne, a huge building of red sand- 
stone in the Italian style of architecture, for the most 
part newly erected by himself in place of a former 
edifice consumed by fire a few years previously. At 
Saverne the Cardinal Prince Louis de Eohan exercises 
all the authority of a petty sovereign, and keeps up a 
well-nigh regal state. Gentlemen of high birth do not 
disdain his service ; and such is the prodigality that 
rules in his establishment, that he has no less than 


fourteen maUres d'hdtd and twenty-five valets de chamhre /♦ 
Situated at the foot of the eastern slope of the Vosges 
mountains, and almost within sight of the valley of the 
Khine, Saverne has its upper and lower towns, in the 
former of which are situated the cathedral, the chan' 
ceHerie, the hotel de la rSffenee, the ancient chateau, and, 
adjoining this last, the palatial residence of the all- 
powerful De Eohans. The principal front of this vast 
building looked over charming gardens, laid out in the 
French style, with handsome terraces and arcades, 
geometrically-shaped beds of brilliant flowers, trees 
trimmed to pattern, green shady alleys, trellises covered 
with vines, arbours, statues, fountains, rivulets, broad 
sheets of water, islands, grottos, and kiosques, beyond 
all which extended a beautiful park, and at the outskirts 
of which again was a pheasantry, bounded by a dense 
forest, where in the pleasant autumn months the hunts- 
man's horn might be heard incessantly resounding. 

The palace, on the garden side, presented one long 
fiajade ornamented with fluted Corinthian pilasters and 
richly-carved cornices and mouldings, and having count- 
less windows of a uniform character. Its somewhat 
unpleasing regularity was broken by a projecting centre 
part with a row of open columns and balustrades, which 
formed a kind of gallery, handsomely decorated in its 
different stages with ornamental friezes, statues, and 

♦ ** Memoires de la Baronne d'Oberkirche.'* 


bas-reliefe, and having the elaborately-sculptured armo- 
rial bearings of the fe-mily of De Eohan and its many 
alliances prominently displayed at either end* 

The principal entrance to the episcopal palace con- 
ducted to a handsome vestibule, from whence the grand 
staircase led to the magnificent suite of reception-rooms 
where the Prince de Eohan, banished from Versailles, 
assembled around him a little court of his own, com- 
posed of some few members of the old nobility related 
to his house, discontented courtiers who disliked the 
young queen, certain too complaisant beauties^ and 
'petiis maiires from the Paris aalaris, philosophers, pre- 
lates, and provincial magnates, military officers from the 
neighbouring garrison at Strasbourg, and the usual 
complement of fools and flatterers that invariably dance 
attendance on the powerful and the wealthy. 

The once stately palace of Saveme is now-a-days 
divested of all its former splendour. It serves alike for 
the mairie, the court of the justice of the peace, and the 
com -market; and as barracks, guard -house, forage 
stores, farriery, and stables, for the troops composing 
the garrison of the town. 

In the summer of the year 1784 couriers bound for 
Paris would every now and then sally forth from the 
palace gates with bags of letters, among which there 
was invariably one elaborately-sealed packet addressed 

* '* Saverne et scs environs," par C. G. Klein. 


to the Countess de la Motte. Enclosed in this would be 
a letter for the queen, begging, entreating, praying for 
an interview at which the writer might plead his cause 
and regain possession of his royal mistress's favour. 
Days and weeks go by while he is waiting and watch- 
ing for a response. Judge, however, of the cardinal's 
agitation when one day the countess herseK arrives un- 
expectedly at Saveme — having travelled post all the 
way from Paris — and announces to him that the long 
and eagerly-sought interview is at length accorded to 
him; that the queen has consented to a midnight 
meeting with him in the Park of Versailles. The 
countess thought, and thought rightly, that a journey 
of nearly three hundred miles, undertaken on purpose 
to be the bearer of this welcome intelligence, would 
give it all the greater weight, and would effectually 
dispel any unpleasant doubts that might perchance by 
this time have taken possession of the cardinal's mind.* 

* " Memoire pour le Cardinal de Rohan," p. 24. 

■ f^TS 



1784. June — July, 
the counterfeit queen. 

Counterfeit lillet& doux having been palmed ofif on the 
infatuated cardinal as genuine with such complete suc- 
cess, the countess now ventures on a singularly bold 
step, nothing less than the personation of majesty itself, 
and actually succeeds in foisting upon the purblind 
prelate une heUe courtimne of the Palais Eoyal as the 
beautiful, high-bom Marie- Antoinette, 

This incident of the nocturnal interview — ^the most 
daring of the many daring schemes of which the long 
intrigue was composed — ^is so fully and clearly, and, 
moreover, so artlessly, described by the '^flle du monde^* 
who was bribed to perform the character of Marie- An- 
toinette on the occasion, in her memorial published at 
the time of the Necklace trial, as to completely ex- 
onerate the queen from having been in any way a party 
to it. Prior, however, to laying this statement before 
the reader, we have something to say respecting thp 


new character whom we are abont to introduce on 
the scene. 

This young person, whose real name was Leguay 
Designy, was bom in Paris in 1761, and was younger 
than the queen by seven years. Although her repu- 
tation was anything but spotless, she was by no means 
the common creature she is ordinarily represented to 
have been. M. Leguay Designy, her father, had been 
a respectable citizen, who at his death was found to 
have saved money, and when her mother died, a few 
years before the event whicli rendered the daughter an 
object of so much notoriety, Mademoiselle Leguay 
Designy was left with a competent provision deposited 
for her in the hands of trustees. These guardians 
however abused their trust, and after dissipating the 
bulk of the young woman's property, compromised 
the matter by the payment of four thousand francs, 
which money she received in the early part of 1784, 
only a few months before the day rendered memo- 
rable by the midnight meeting in the park of Ver- 

Mademoiselle Leguay Designy, in her memorial, 
which was drawn up by her advocate, M. Blondel — who, 
perceiving that the very simplicity of his client was her 
best defence, had the sagacity to let her tell her story 
in her own way — ^thus describes how it was that she 
first became acquainted with the De la Mottes, husb^d 
and wife. 



"In the month of June, 1784, 1 lodged," she says, 
"in a small apartment in the Eue du Jour, in the 
Quartier St. Eustaehe.* I was not very far from the 
Palais Koyal, where I used frequently to go of an after- 
noon for two or three hours with a neighbour's child, 
about four years old, of whom I was very fond. 

" One afternoon, in the month of July, when I was 
sitting in the Palais Koyal, this child being along with 
me, I observed a stranger pass by several times ; he 
was a tall young man, and quite alone. He looked at 
me fixedly, and I noticed as he came near to me that 
he slackened his pace as if to survey me more atten- 
tively. There was a vacant chair two or three feet 
from mine, in which he seated himself. 

" I could not avoid bestowing my attention upon him, 
for his eyes kept repeatedly wandering over my person. 
The expression of his countenance becomes grave and 
earnest, and he appears agitated by a painful and 
anxious curiosity as he scans my entire figure very 
narrowly, whilst not a feature of my face escapes him. 

" We met in this way in the gardens of the Palai? 
Koyal for several successive days, until at last he ad- 
dressed me, and I committed the error of replying to him. 

* The Rue du Jour is a narrow street close to the " Halles Cen- 
tralles," and at the western end of the church of St. Eustache. It 
contains at the present day several " Hotels meubl^ " of a seedy kind, 
but the " petit hotel Lanibesc," where Mdlle. Leguay Designy had 
her small apartment on the " premier ctage," no longer exists under 
its oriiiinal name. 


** One eyening on leaying him I returned home, when 
I fonnd that he had followed me without my perceiying 
it. Suddenly he stood before me in my apartment. 
He introduced himself with every sign of respec^tful 
politeness, and requested me to allow him occasionally 
to visit me. I could not take upon myself to deny liis 
request, and after obtaining my consent, he was most 
assiduous in his calls. But I had no reason to complain 
of these visits, for the young man never jiaMMid th« 
limits of propriety. He questioned me, however, with 
the kindest concern, respecting my in(X)me and futuro 
prospects, taking a lively interest in my fate. Ho also 
spoke of powerful protectors of his own, tfi whom ha 
could recommend me, and who might bo able tf> servo 

" Doubtless you are eager to know who this stranger 
was. It is time to name him ; it was M. do la Mott(5, 
who represented himself to be an officer of distinguisiuicl 
rank, with great expectations, and 8upi>orted by illiw- 
trious patrons.* 

'' It was, I think, on the occasion of his ninth visit, 
one morning at the beginning of August, 1784,t that 1 
observed his countenance overspread with joy and satiiH 
faction, such as he had never shown before. lie luid, 

* The count beinii, aco/rdin:; to R^taux da ViiietU;, a iiot/nioiu 
gambler, the Palais Koyal, whc-re the tal<nt$ fJk jeu tniMi abouiided, 
would naturally have l>cen one of his accubt/^iiied hauntif. 

t More probably toward* the end of July. 


he said, the most agreeable, the most interesting things 
to tell me, 

" * I have just left,' continued he, * a person of very 
great distinction, who spoke a great deal about you. I 
shall bring the lady to see you this evening.' 

"I awaited that evening with eagerness, counting 
every hour and every moment, for I longed to see this 
lady of very great distinction. 

** M. de la Motte returned at night, teUing me that 
in a few moments I should see the person about whom 
he had spoken in the morning. Whereupon, and with- 
out any farther explanation, he withdrew. 

^' Scarcely had he left me, before I saw a lady enter 
my chamber ; she was all alone — no servant was attend- 
ing her. She approached me with politeness, and with 
looks full of affability. 

^'* Madame,' said she, smiling, *you must be rather 
surprised at my visit, unknown to you as I am.' 

" I replied that the surprise could not be otherwise 
than agreeable to me. 

" This person was the wife of my pretended patron ; 
she was Madame de la Motte, but she took good care 
not to say so then. I offered the lady a chair, she drew 
it herself close to my own, and sat down. Then leaning 
over towards me, with a look at once cautious and con- 
fiding, whilst her eye appeared to gleam with an ex- 
pression of benevolent regard, she said to me, in a low 
voice, what I am about to relate. 


** ' Confide, my dear pet, in what I am going to say ; 
I am a gentlewoman belonging to the court.' 

" At the same time she drew out a pocket-book, and 
having opened it, showed me several letters, which she 
declared to me were written to her by the queen. 

" ' But, madame,' answered I, * all this is a mystery 
to me ; I cannot understand it.' 

" * You will soon understand it, my pet. I possess 
the queen's full confidence ; we are like hand and glove 
together. She has just given me another proojf of this 
trust, by commissioning me to find her a person to do 
something which will be explained at the proper time. 
I have made choice of you, and if you like to under- 
take it, I will make you a present of 15,000 livres 
(francs) ; but the present that you will receive from the 
queen will be much more considerable. I cannot tell 
you my name just yet, but you shall soon be informed 
who I am. If, however, you do not think my word 
sufficient, and desire to have security for the 15,000 
livres, we will go directly to a notary's.' " 

[In the following paragraph the pen of the advocate 
has evidently been at work.] 

** Ye simple and tnistful hearts, pause for a moment 
after reading this artful speech from the boldest and 
most audacious intriguer that ever lived. Fancy your- 
selves in my place, deign to consider what my feelings 
must have been, what I must have thought and imagined, 
I, a poor girl of twenty-three, unacquainted witli either 


intrigoe or bnsmesB. Wbat would yua Iisve said? 
What would yoaliaTe done under similaTcirGiimstBiioes? 

^From that moment I was no long^ myself I 
answered Madame de la 3[otte that I should be proud 
to be able to do anything that wonld be agreeable to 
the queen, without any motire of personal interest to 
prompt me. 

" She replied immediately, * The Count de la Motte 
"win call for you to-morrow evening in a carriage;, and 
will carry you to Versailles.' "* 

The reader will not fsdl to observe the predsicm with 
which the countess enters on her course of action ; the 
'quickness with which she manages to come to the 
point Her husband takes a fortnight to bring about 
the introduction of his wife, while she settles everything 
at a single interview. 

The next day the coxmt, who is accompanied by 
Betaux de Villette, takes Mademoiselle Leguay to Ver- 
sailles at the appointed time, and leaves her with his 
\rife in their apartments at the "Hotel de la Belle 
Image," kept by the Sieur Gobert, and situated in the 
Place Dauphine, at that time one of tbe most aristo- 
cratic quarters of the royal town. This "Place" is 
octagonal in shape, and the houses, which range from 
four to five storeys bigli, have all some sort of pretension 
alxjut them ; they have either open balustrades running 

• " MC'iij'irc \<(A\T la D<.m''is<.!l!v Ix'gr.ay d'Oliva/' p. 8, ct seq. 


along the parapets, or carved cornices with enriched 
mouldings surmounting the windows, or ornamental 
iron balconies. Most of them too have large portes 
cocheres. The Place, which in Madame de la Motte's 
days was a large open space, where the public sedan- 
chairs — the chaises hhues and tlie hrouettes — used to ply 
for hire, is now laid out as a flower garden, and has in 
the centre a bronze statue of General Hoche, after 
whom the Place is now named. The house where the 
countess lodged, and formerly known as "La Belle 
Image," no longer preserves its sign. It is, however, 
the first house (No. 8)* in the angle on the right hand, 
on entering the Place from the Kue Hoche. All the ' 
apartments, except the attics, must have been of a 
superior class. Now-a-days the ground floor is appro- 
priated to a " Magasin Anglais," where English cutlery, 
and needles and pins, and reels and balls of cotton, and 
patent medicines, and pickles, and old brown Windsor 
soap, are exposed for sale. To return, however, to 
Mademoiselle Leguay, whose memorial thus proceeds : 

" It was only then I learnt the name and condition 
of Madame de la Motte, that she was the wife of Count 
de la Motte, that she went by the title of Countess de 
Valois at Versailles, and that the queen used to write 
to her in that name." 

The belle- courtisane of the Palais Royal, whose resem- 

• " Histoire anecdotique dcs Rues de Versailles," par J. A. Lc Roi. 


blance to Marie- Antoinette is said to have been singularly 
striking, — she was remarkable for the elegance of her 
figure, had blue eyes and chestnut coloured hair* — 
is now dressed and tricked out in coquettish neglige 
— a white robe en chemise, bordered and lined with 
rose colour, and a white lace hood — ^for the famous 
interview with the Cardinal de Eohan, who had so 
earnestly solicited this audience of the queen, with 
whom the miserable dupe flattered himself he had been 
all this while corresponding. The memorial proceeds : 
" Madame de la Motte delivered to me a small note, 
folded in the usual way, but without telling me either 
what it contained or to whom it was addressed, or even 
by whom it was written. Neither she nor her husband 
spoke to me on the subject. Madame de la Motte 
merely said, * I will take you this evening into the park, 
and you will deliver this letter to a great nobleman 
whom you will meet there.' "t 

♦ " Deuxieme M^moire, pour le Sieur Bette d'Etienville," p. 17. 
t " Memoire pour la Demoiselle Leguay d'Oliva,'* p. 16. 



1784. JULY. 



The memorial of the Demoiselle Leguay Designy thus 
proceeds : — 

" Between eleven and twelve o'clock I went out with 
M. and Madame de la Motte. I had on a white mantle 
and a white lace hood. I do not remember whether I 
carried a fan in my hand or not; I cannot say for 
certain. The small note was in my pocket. 

" They took me into the park ; there a rose was put 
into my hand by Madame de la Motte, who said to me : 
* You wiU give this rose, along with the letter, to the 
person who shall present himself to you, and say to 
him these words : You know what this means ? The 
queen will be there to see how your meeting passes 
off; she will speak to you. She is there yonder, and 
will be close behind you. You shall presently speak 
to her yourself.' 

VOL. I. K 


" These leist words made such an impression on me, 
that I trembled from head to foot I could not help 
telling them so : I observed to them that I did not 
know I was to speak to the queen. I asked them, in a 
stammering voice, what was the proper form of speech. 
. . M. de la Motte answered me : * You must always 
say. Your majesty,' 

"I need hardly, I think, break off here to declare 
that, far from having had the honour of speaking to 
the queen, or far from her having done me the honour 
to speak to me, I did not even see her at all. . . . 

" We were still walking along when M. de la Motte 
met a man to whom he said : * Ah ! is that you ?' . . . 
Afterwards, when I dined with the La Mottes, I recog- 
nised in Villette, their friend, the same person who 
was thus addressed by M. de la Motte. . . . 

^ Madame de la Motte then accompanied me to a 
hedge of yoke elms, leaving me there whilst she went 
to fetch the great nobleman to whom I was to speak. 

" I remained waiting . . . The noble unknown came 
up, bowing as he approached me, whilst Madame de la 
Motte stood aside a few paces off, and appeared to 
watch the scene. 

" I knew not who the great nobleman was, and although 
the Cardinal de Eohan now acknowledges that he was 
the person, I am still quite ignorant upon the point. 

" It was a dull night, not a speck of moonlight ; nor 
could I distinguish anything but those persons and 


objects which were familiar to me. It would be quite 
impossible for me to describe the state I was in. I was 
so agitated, so excited, so disconcerted, and so tremu- 
lous, that I cannot conceive how I was able to accom- 
plish even half of what I had been instructed to do. 

" I offered the rose to the great nobleman, and said 
to him, *You know what this means,' or something 
very similar. I cannot affirm whether he took it or let 
it fall. As for the letter, it remained in my pocket ; 
I had entirely forgotten it. 

"As soon as I had spoken, Madame de la Motte 
came running up to us, saying in a low hurried voice : 
* Quick, quick, come away ! ' 

" I left the stranger, and after proceeding a few steps 
foimd myself with M. de la Motte, whilst his wife and the 
unknown went off together and were lost to our view. 
Count de la Motte conducted me back to the hotel, 
where we sat talking together until the return of his 

" She came home about two in the morning, when I 
explained to her that I had forgotten to give tlie note. 
I was afraid she would have scolded me for this negli- 
gence, but instead of doing so she evinced the greatest 
satisfaction, assuring me she had just left the queen, 
and that her majesty was in the highest degree delighted 
with my performance." * 

* " Memoire pour la Demoiselle Leguay d'Oliva," p. 16, et se'i. 



Such appears to have been the famous scene in the 
park of Versailles at midnight, when the Prince de 
Eohan, deluded by an artful woman, was fain to believe 
that he had been honoured with an interview with the 
Queen of France, and might soon expect to be openly 
received at court. The countess knew perfectly well 
that the cheat would run the risk of being detected if 
the dialogue were suffered to proceed too far, she there- 
fore frightened away her dupes almost as soon as she. 
had brought them together. 

The Countess de la Motto's own account of this inter- 
view in the park of Versailles, though at variance with 
that given by Mademoiselle d'Oliva, nevertheless agrees 
sufficiently with it to prove that the statement of the 
latter was perfectly sincere. The countess alleges that 
the idea of practising tliis deception upon the cardinal 
originated with Marie -Antoinette herself — that the 
choice of the actress who was to personate her, the place 
appointed for the interview, the young girl's embarrass- 
ment before the meeting, were all known at the time to 
the queen, who was present in an adjoining arbour. 

Nay, more. According to the same account, the 
(Cardinal de Eohan was also privy to the trick played 
upon himself, and connived at tlie deceit in order to 
humour her majesty. Madame de la Motto's narrative 
of the transaction is too long to be transcribed through- 
out, but it concludes in this manner : — 

'* The poor girl was dressed and adorned like a shrine. 


• • • Judging from the questions she had put to me 
since her arrival at Versailles, it was easy to see that she 
expected some great adventure, and had made her pre- 
parations accordingly. . . Nothing could be more divert- 
ing than tlie embarrassment of this creature, whose real 
anxiety was about the issue, since she knew she was 
going to play her part before the queen. 

" The scene was the arbour at the lower end of tlie 
grass-plot. This arbour is encompassed on its left-hand 
path by a hedge of hornbeam, supported by a strong 
lattice-work fence. At a distance of three feet from the 
inner part of the arbour is a second hedge, and the 
space between the two quicksets forms a walk which 
leads round the enclosure without conducting to the 
arbour itself. 

" At the hour appointed I gave the signal by putting 
into Mademoiselle d'Oliva's hand the rose which Marie- 
Antoinette had told me to deliver to the cardinal 
through her means. Having placed her at her post, I 
withdrew. The queen was not ten paces from me. I 
was distressed by D'Oliva's timidity, and the queen 
doubtless experienced the same feeling, for in spite of 
all her reserve and watchfulness she could not contain 
herself, but cried out : ^ Take courage. Don't be afraid !' 
D'Oliva admitted this in her examination. The cardinal 
having come up, the conversation began, 

" The cardinal, whose mind was at ease, since he was 
in the secret, exerted himself to compose the poor girl. 


by putting none but simple questions to her, and saying 
courteous things. What chiefly disconcerted her was, 
that he spoke of former errors forgiven, of his gratitude, 
and made fine promises for the future. Of all this she 
understood nothing, answering Yes or No at. random. 
But the cardinal took advantage of these monosyllables 
to dwell upon his happiness with exaggeration^ saying 
the prettiest things in the world . . . raising her foot 
at the close of his speech, and respectfully kissing it 
It was then Mademoiselle d'Oliva gave him the rose, 
which he placed against his heart, protesting that he 
would preserve this token all his life, and calling it the 
rose of happiness. 

" Everything having been said that was to be said, I 
came forward hurriedly, and announced that Madame 
and the Countess d'Artois were approaching the spot. 
Every one vanished with lightning-like rapidity. D'Oliva 
returned to the seat where my husband was expecting 
her, the cardinal having rejoined the Baron de Planta, 
whom he had left at some distance on the watch, came, 
accompanied by him, to me, and induced me to follow 
him beyond the avenue, behind which he stopped to see 
the queen pass. Having caught sight of her as she was 
stealing out from the corner of the grass-plot and taking 
the walk leading to the terrace, he urged me to follow 
her majesty, and try to ascertain whether she was satis- 
fied. Accordingly I did follow her, with light measured 
steps, and having overtaken her at the entrance to the 


chateau, she made me go in along with her, told me in 
substance that she had been much diverted, paid me 
a few compliments on my own account, and enjoined 
me not to tell the cardinal that I had seen her that 
evening." * 

In this account there is much that is false, and but 
little that is true. A counterfeit queen, and no other, 
was present at the interview. The cardinal was imposed 
upon by the trick to which of course he was not privy ; 
and having left the park with the full conviction that 
he had spoken to his sovereign, was committed to the 
tender mercies of the countess and her confederates, 
who pretty quickly proceeded to plunder him of his 

* "M^moires Justificatifs de la Comtesse de la Motte," p. 52, 
et seq. 



1784. JULY — NOV. 


The evening following that on which the cardinal 
was so cleverly duped, young Beugnot happening to iSnd 
himself in the neighbourhood of the Eue Neuve-Saint- 
Gilles, looked in at the countess's hotel on the chance 
of finding her at home. At this period it was no longer 
a spacious appartement that she rented, but the entire 
house ; and yet, with the view of deceiving the cardi- 
nal, on whose bounty she was now in a large measure 
dependent, whenever he called upon her she used 
invariably to receive him in some mean apartment on 
one of the upper floors.* " I was told," says Beugnot, 
"that the master and mistress were absent, and that 
only Mademoiselle Colson was within. This made me 
the more inclined to stay. Mademoiselle Colson was a 
relation of Madame de la Motto's, whom madame had 

* " M6moire pour le Cardinal de Rohan." 

THE countess's DAME DE COMPAGNIE. 137 

quaKfied and raised to the rank ot dame de compagnie. 
She was wanting neither in wit nor malice, and when- 
ever I met her we always made a point of laughing 
together at the foolishness and extravagance of the 
heads of the house. They used to tell her nothing; 
nevertheless she managed to find out everything. *I 
think/ she remarked to me on this occasion, * that their 
royal highnesses are occupied with some grand project. 
They pass their time in secret counsels, to which the 
first secretary (Villette) is alone admitted. His reve- 
rence the second secretary (Father Loth) is conse- 
quently reduced to listening at the door : he makes three 
journeys a day to the Eue Vieille-du-Temple (to the 
Palais-Cardinal), without guessing a single treacherous 
word of the messages they confide to him. The monk 
is inconsolable at this, since he is as curious as an old 

" We passed two hours in thus slandering our neigh- 
bours and in making guesses and prophesying. When 
I wished to leave. Mademoiselle Colson pointed to the 
clock: it was midnight, and there was no chance of 
finding a voiture on the stand. Since I had remained 
so long, the only thing to do now, she said, was to await 
the return of Madame de la Motte, whg would send 
me home in her carriage. I consented. Between twelve 
and one o'clock we heard the sound of a vehicle enter- 
ing the court, and saw descend from it Monsieur and 
Madame de la Motte, Villette, and a woman from 


twenty -five to thirty years of age — a blonde, very 
pretty, and a remarkably fine figure. The two women 
were dressed with elegance, but with simplicity; the 
men wore dress-coats, and had the air of having just 
returned from a country party. They commenced by 
joking me on my tete-a-tete with Mademoiselle Colson, 
and spoke of the regret we must both have felt at 
having been so soon disturbed. They talked any 
amount of nonsense together, laughed, hummed, and 
seemed as if they could not keep their legs stilL The 
unknown shared the common mirth, but she restrained 
herself within due bounds, and displayed a certain 
timidity. They seated themselves at table, the merri- 
ment continued, it increased, and finally became noisy. 
Mademoiselle Colson and I wore dull and astonished 
looks, such as one is forced to put on in the presence of 
very gay people when one is ignorant of what they are 
laughing at. Meanwhile the party indulging in this 
excess of hilarity seemed inconvenienced by our pre- 
sence, as it prevented' them from speaking openly of 
the subject of their mirth. M. de la Motte consulted 
Villette as to whether there would be any risk in 
speaking. Villette replied that ' he did not admit the 
truth of the adage that one is betrayed only by one's 
own people ; in fact anybody and everybody were ready 

to betray you, and discretion ' Here Madame de 

la Motte, by whose side the first secretary was sitting at 
table, suddenly put her hand on his mouth, and said in 


an imperative tone : * Hold your tongue ; M/Beugnot is 
too upright a man for your confidence.' I give her own 
words without changing a syllable. The compliment 
would have been a flattering one if the countess had 
not been ordinarily in the habit of using the words 
* upright man ' and ' fool ' as though they were synony- 

" Madame de la Motte, following her usual practice 
whenever I was present, turned the conversation upon 
Bar-sur-Aube and on my family, and inquired when 
I contemplated returning thither. Every one was wish- 
ing the supper to come to an end. I asked Madame 
de la Motte to lend me her horses to take me home. 
She raised only a slight difficulty: it was necessary 
that she should send home the unknown, and eventu- 
ally decided that the one living farthest off should put 
down the other on the way. I objected tp this arrange- 
ment, and asked permission of the lady to conduct her 
to whatever quarter she lived in, expressing my regret 
at the same time that however distant this might be, it 
would still be too near. This woman's countenance had 
at the first glance caused me that kind of uneasiness 
which one feels when one is conscious of having seen a 
person before, but cannot remember when or where. I 
addressed several questions to her on our way, but was 
unable to draw anything out of her; either Madame 
de la Motte, who had spoken to her in private before 
her departure, had recommended her to be discreet 


with me, or, what seemed more probable, she had 
naturally more inclination for holding her tongue than 
for talking. I set down my silent companion in the 
Kue de C16ry. The uneasiness which I felt in her 
presence was, I afterwards called to mind, due to her 
striking resemblance to the queen. The lady proved 
to be no other than Mademoiselle d'Oliva, and the 
mirth of my companions was occasioned by the com- 
plete success of the knavish trick \Nhich they had 
played off only the night before in the park of Ver- 
sailles upon the Cardinal de Eohan."* 

This meeting, at which the cardinal was so cleverly 
fooled, took place, be it remembered, either at the 
end of July — the countess fixes it on the 28th — or 
at the commencement of August ffis eminence the 
cardinal was so much elated with his good fortune, in 
having thus recovered, as he hoped, the favour of the 
queen, and felt so well assured that he was now in a fair 
way of becoming prime minister, the great object of his 
ambition, that the Countess de la Motte resolved at once 
to reap the first-fruits of his fond hallucination. So 
great was her decision of character, so thorough her 
assurance, so precise and prompt her mode of action, 
that before many days had elapsed she had applied for 
— by means of a billet bordered with vignettes hleueSy 
penned of course by the forger Villette — ^and obtained 

* " Memoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 67, et seq. 


the moderate sum of 50,000 francs in the queen's name, 
assuring her dupe that the queen required the loan for 
certain charitable purposes.* Ere another three months 
had gone by, by the aid of another forged billet pur- 
porting to have been penned by the queen, madame suc- 
ceeded in obtaining another 100,000 francs. Both these 
amounts she received at the hands of the cardinal's 
equerry, the Baron de Planta. Thus the Prince de 
Kohan, who in the month of July had been duped by an 
interview with a counterfeit queen, ere the year had 
gone by had been swindled out of no less a sum than 
150,000 francs, or £6000 sterling. 

This is all the more extraordinary, and only proves 
the intensity of the infatuation under which the old 
dotard must have been labouring, for no very long time 
previously there had been much talk within the pur- 
lieus of the court of a daring act of swindling, perpe- 
trated by means of a scandalous misuse of the queen's 
name, which ought to have put him on his guard. It 
seems that one Beranger, a fermier-general, had been 
induced to advance a sum of 20(\000 francs to a certain 
Madame Cahouet de Villers, a lady said to be in attend- 
ance on the queen, as he believed for the use of her 
royal mistress. When first the lady applied to him, M. 
Beranger observed that he should be proud to furnish 

• In the cardinal's first " Mcmoire " he states the sum to have been 
sixty thousand francs, but at his examination he fixed it at fifty 


the sum required, provided her majesty would conde- 
scend to say one word to him — only one little word. 
But the lady only laughed at his unreasonable demand. 
If the queen, she said, chose to apply in so open a man- 
ner, of course the contents of every strong box in the 
kingdom would be at her disposal. Then where would 
be the merit of lending so small a sum on such 
security ? 

Poor Beranger was ashamed of himself for having 
been so unreasonable, and consented to lend the money 
if the queen would only show him by a look, or even 
by a nod, that she desired it This compact was agreed 

A few days afterwards, therefore, when the queen 
with her train of ladies had to pass along the famous 
looking-glass gallery at Versailles on some occasion of 
pleasure, the caMiiovLsfermier-generdl posted himself in 
a quiet comer where he could be seen, and by-and-by 
Marie- Antoinette swept along full of smiles and nods, 
the whole of which had been cunningly provoked by 
some smart observations made by the lady above 
mentioned, and which said smiles and nods the de- 
lighted financier applied entirely to himself. A few 
hours afterwards the two hundred thousand francs were 
handed to the lady in question. The duped fermier- 
general, who, when the affair came to be commonly 
known, was toasted as a gallant financier at all parties 
and in all societies for a month or two afterwards, put 


the affair into the hands of the police, and my lady was 
arrested and sent to Sainte-Pelagie, and her husband 
brought to ruin through having to reimburse the 
fermier - general the amount of which he had been 

The above transpired in 1777. Five years later 
another imposture of a somewhat similar character was 
brought to light, but owing to its having been com- 
paratively harmless in its results, it did not make any 
particular noise. A female boasted that she was 
honoured with the confidence of the queen, and ex- 
hibited letters sealed with a seal belonging to Marie- 
Antoinette which had been stolen off a table in the 
apartment of the Duchess de Polignac, inviting her to 
Trianon. She gave out that she could' influence the 
favour of the Princess de la Lamballe, and pretended 
that she had been the means of disarming the resent- 
ment of the Princess de Guem^nee (the Cardinal de 
Kohan's niece) and Madame de Chimay against 
Madame de Koquefeuille. Here we have the same 
falsehoods, the same sort of dupes, the same farce, and, 
what is strangest of all, the same name ; for the im- 
postor of 1782 was also named De la Motte ! — Marie- 
Josephe-FrangoiseWaldburg-Frohberg, wife of Stanislas 
Henri-Pierre de la Motte, formerly administrator and 
inspector of the royal college of La Flfeche.* Thus does 

* "Histoire do Marie- Antoinette," par E. et J. de Goncourt, 
r. 202. 


history, even in its most insignificant byways, repeat 

For some time after the incident of the midnight 
intervi^y, Mademoiselle Leguay was a constant visitor 
at the De la Mottes, both at Paris and Versailles, and 
subsequently at their country house at Charonne ; for 
immediately the countess had gathered the first-fruits 
of her successful^ fraud a 'petite maison de campagne was 
added to their other establishments. The demoiselle 
of the Palais Eoyal was presented to the somewhat 
mixed company which she met on these occasions 
under the title of the Baroness d'Oliva, which the 
countess had herself conferred upon her, deriving, it 
is supposed, "Oliva" from "Olisva," anagram of 
" Valois." She tells us that at the De la Motte table, 
^hich was served, by the way, by footmen in elegant 
liveries, there were to be seen officers of rank, such 
as the Baron de Villeroy, chevahers of St. Louis and 
of Malta, retired notaries and their wives, a relative of 
madame's, one Valois, a bootmaker, Ketaux de Villette, 
the countess's secretary, and Father Loth, her homrne 
d'af aires, — altogether a tolerably free and-easy-sort of 
society, we have no manner of doubt. 
■ On one occasion the Baroness d'Oliva accompanied 
the Countess de la Motte, the Baron de Villeroy, and 
Edtaux de Villette to the Theatre Franpais to see 
Beaumarchais' comedy, "The Marriage of Figaro," 
then running its hundred nights; but as time wore 

d'oliva keceives some money on account. 145 

on, the countess became less pressing in her invitations, 
and the intercourse between the two ladies grew gra- 
dually less intimate, until some time in the ensuing 
November, when the Countess de la Motte and the 
Baroness d'Oliva were no longer on visiting terms. As 
regards the 15,000 francs which the counterfeit queen 
was to have received for her single night's performance, 
and on the strength of which brilliant engagement she 
had contracted debts which were a source of great 
future embarrassment to her, this is what she says to 
the countess in her " M^ moire :" — 

" Some days after your return from Versailles, you 
and your husband came at midnight in a voiture de 
place to the Eue du Jour, and gave me four hundred 
francs on account. 

" On another day you came to me in the evening in 
your cari'iage, having only your footman with you, and 
gave me seven golden louis. 

" Another day you drove up to my door in your 
carriage and sent your footman to inquire for me. I 
came down and saw Father Loth and the Baron de 
Villeroy with you in the carriage. I asked you for 
four hundred francs, wliich I wanted to pay to Gentil, 
my upholsterer. Some days afterwards, Father Loth 
called for me, and we went togetlier to Gentil and 
paid him the money. 

"On another occasion your friend Villette brought 
me three hundred francs from you. 

VOTi. I. L 


"Another day I sent my servant to you, according to 
previous arrangement, when you paid her three thousand 
francs in notes of one thousand francs eacL"* 

Thus it will be seen that she was only paid 4268 
francs of the 15,000 francs promised to her, and that by 
bit-by-bit instalments. Schemers and sharpers, if they 
had gold mines at their disposal, would never pay in 
any other way. 

* " M^moire pour la Demoiselle Leguay d'Oliva," p. 34. 



1784. NOV, 


The sudden possession of a large sum of money pro- 
duced in the countess an invincible desire to return for 
a time to Bar-sur-Aube, where a few years previously 
she had suffered so much poverty, but where she could 
now display a little pomp. Late in the autumn of 
1784, young Beugnot received a very amiable letter 
from Madame de la Motte, in which she announced to 
him that having several days to spare, she was about to 
spend them at Bar-sur-Aube with her friends. **She 
informed me, in an easy off-hand manner," observes the 
count, " that she had sent in advance her carriage and 
saddle-horses, which would be five days on the road, as 
she had been recommended not to fatigue them, and 
that she herself would arrive two days afterwards. She 
apprised her sister-in-law, Madame de la Tour, of her 
coming in mucli the same terms, and gave her certain 
particular directions as to the lodging of herself and 
suite. Madame de la Tour came to me quite bewildered, 
and asked me what it all meant, to which I replied that 
I was as much in the dark as she was. Having com- 



pared letters, we agreed that there was a mystification 
of the worst kind about the aflfair, but resolved that we 
would not be duped, and that no preparations should be 
made for lodging the princess and her suite, and more- 
over that we would both preserve strict silence with 
reference to the letters we had received. How great 
was our astonishment when on the appointed day we 
beheld a large heavily-laden waggon, drawn by a fine 
team, and followed by two led horses of great value, 
drive into the town. A steward who .arrived with the 
waggon instantly gave orders for more provisions than 
would have sufficed to victual the best house in the 
town for a period of six months. People stared at each 
other when they met in the streets, and wondered what 
this new chapter in the 'Arabian Nights' could possibly 
mean, and were still wondering when the Count and 
Countess de la Motte, preceded by two outriders in 
handsome liveries, drove leisurely through the main 
street of Bar-sur-Aube in a veiy elegant lerline.''* Two 
years before they had left the place with borrowed 
money and no other clothes but those they had on ; 
now they returned in their o^ti carriage, with their 
couriers and saddle-horses, and actually required a 
waggon to convey their wardrobe ! 

The town of Bar-sur-Aube, on the banks of the river, 
the name of which it bears, is built partly on the slope 

* " Mdmoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. pp. 33, 34. 


of a mountain and partly in a valley, and has on its 
mountain side the remains of some extensive Eoman 
fortifications said to have been constructed by Caesar 
during his invasion of Gaul. In by-gone times the 
town was encompassed by a massive stone wall, and had 
ditches, and ramparts, and four ancient gateways, with 
a garrison of arquebusiers and militiamen. Its forti- 
fications however have been long since demolished, and 
pleasant gardens now occupy their site. At the present 
day Bar-sur-Aube boasts several ancient churches and 
chapels containing handsome carved altar-pieces, and 
many curious antique monuments, and has also its con- 
vents, hospitals, college, and theatre. The one object 
of historical interest that attracts the attention of 
strangers is the little gothic chapel in the centre of the 
old stone bridge of seven arches which spans the river 
Aube, built to mark the s{X)t where, upwards of four 
centuries since, Charles VII. caused the Bastard de 
Bourbon, chief of the gang of ecorcheurs (flayers) — so 
called because they stripped the unfortunate wretches 
who chanced to fall into their hands of every particle of 
clothing, and who had for a long time ravaged Cham- 
pagne — to be sewn up in a sack and drowned in the 
river beneath. In the old parts of the town the houses 
are chiefly of wood, and some of the more picturesque 
among them have large figures of saints forming their 
supports. Most of the houses erected during the last 
eighty or ninety years, however, are built entirely of 


stone. Tlie outskirts of Bar-sur-Aube are planted with 
trees, and laid out in public walks^ gardens, and orchards; 
beyond which a chain of small hills, covered with vines 
or dense plantations of foliage, gives a picturesque 
aspect to the surrounding country. Owing to the favour- 
able situation of the town and the productive nature of 
the adjacent districts, Bar-sur-Aube does an extensive 
trade in various kinds of grain, horses, cattle, wine, 
brandy, fruit, wool, leather, liuen, iron, glass, pottery, 
and stone and timber for building purposes. 

Bar-sur-Aube has something of a history of its own, 
for it has been the scene of several stirring historical 
events. It was occupied by the Eomans duriug their 
invasion of Gaul, was ravaged by Attila, and was pillaged 
by our own Edward III. in 1360. About four centuries 
later the inhabitants of Bar-sur-Aube welcomed with 
great display Louis the Well-Beloved when he passed 
through the town on his return from the siege of Fri- 
bourg. In January, 1814, the Allies, then marching 
upon Paris, appeared before Bar-sur-Aube, and after 
a series of hard-fought engagements forced Marshal 
Mortier, who held the town, to beat a rapid retreat under 
cover of the night. While in the occupation of the 
Allies, a conference of the ministers of the different powers 
was held at Bar-sur-Aube, when Lord Castlereagh reso- 
lutely refused all subsidies to the vacillating Bernadotte 
imless he agreed to support Marshal Blucher with two 
corps d*armee, and so enable the Allies to continue their 


march upon Paris. At this time there were three 
crowned heads, the Emperors of Eussia and Austria, and 
the King of Prussia, installed in comparatively humble 
lodgings iA this second-rate provincial town. After the 
battle of Montmerail, on the 11th of February, the 
Allies, who were retreating, turned and made a stand, 
and compelled the French army to retire across the river 
Aube. On this occasion the town was twice taken and 
retaken after several severe engagements. In the year 
following, about three weeks after the battle of Waterloo, 
the Allies, to the number of 200,000 strong, again ap- 
peared before Bar-sur-Aube. This time there was no 
enemy to face them, so they quietly took possession of the 
place, levied heavy contributions on the inhabitants, and 
left a garrison of a couple of thousand men behind them, 
when they pursued their unopposed march upon Paris.* 
The De la Mottes spend several weeks at Bar-sur* 
Aube, give grand dinner and supper parties to those 
who consent to visit them, discharge all their debts 
with the cardinal's money, and assume all the airs of 
genuine nobility. Most of the inhabitants eat their 
meat and drink their wine without instituting any 
curious inquiries as to the source of their strange 
prosperity; but there was one whose piercing intelli- 
gence penetrated every outward vanity, whose keen eye 
discerned the truth then more distinctly than others 

* "Essais Historiques sur la Ville de Bar-sur-Aube," etc., par 
J. F. G., and " Histoire de Bar-sur-Aube,'* par L. Chevalier. 

■ .-/•yjfci^vjjjrripji 


have done since, after the exposure of a long trial by 
the Court of Parliament, and the still more searching 
investigations of fifty historians. This sagacious man 
was M. de la Tour, who had married the coilnt's sister. 
When he dined at the De la Motte table, the countess 
herself, to whom all others submitted, quailed beneath 
his cutting sarcasms. 

"I chanced to be alone with M. de la Tour," says 
Beugnotj " on the day of Madame de la Motte's arrival. 

* Am I not a thousand times right,' said he to me, 'when 
I assert that Paris contains the worst pei*sons in the 
world? In what other place, I ask you, would this 
little vixen and her big lanky husband have been able 
to obtain by swindling the things which they are dis- 
playing before our astonished eyes ? Your good father 
excepted' — Beugnot's father, it wiU be remembered, had 
lent the De la Mottes a thousand francs a few years 
previously — * who would they have found here willing to 
lend them a crown ? and yet in half an hour they have 
unpacked more silver plate than there is in the whole 
town besides, not even excepting the chalices and orna- 
ments of the altar.' ... * Do you not know,' remarked 
I, * that Madame de la Motte is protected by the queen ?' 

* I'll say nothing as to the queen's protection,' replied 
La Tour. * Between you and me, the wife of our lord the 
king is not the most prudent person in the world ; still 
she is not such a fool as to have anything to do with 
people of their stamp, I warrant.' " 


The evening after the De la Mottes' arrival they 
gave a supper to a few intimate friends, which, according 
to Beugnot, would have been considered magnificent for 
any kind of guests even in Paris. " Although the town 
of Bar-sur-Aube," observes he, "is one of the most 
ancient cities of the Gauls, never perhaps had such 
luxury been seen in it before, not even when Caesar did 
it the honour of stopping there to hang — as they say — 
the mayor and councillors of that epoch. Faithful to 
an understanding we had previously come to. La Tour 
and I ate with good appetites, and without taking par- 
ticular notice of anything, as though, in fact, we were 
both accustomed to such festivities. We kept the con- 
versation in our own hands, taking care to confine it to 
subjects which rendered it diflScult for the most expert 
talker to interpose a remark in praise of any of the 
things spread before us. M. de la Motte did not like 
this ; he wished to make us admire the dinner-service, 
which was of a new pattern, and of very fine workmanship. 
La Tour contended that services of this kind had been 
known for a very long time, but had gone out on account 
of their clumsiness. The nil admirari was persevered 
in with respect to everything, and to the very end. 

" At last Madame de la Motte thought she had found 
grace in our eyes in praising a fowl, one of the finest 
which had just been removed from the table, informing 
us at the same time that she had ordered the courier to 
bring her a supply of this kind of poultry so long as she 



remained at Bar-sur-Aube, because to her taste ordinary 
country fowls were not eatable. 'I ask your pardon, 
madam/ interposed La Tour, in a serious tone, * but I 
am by no means of your opinion. I consider a country 
capon such as you have been speaking of, when properly 
fattened, to be vastly superior to all your Normandy 
and Mans cocks and pullets, the flesh of which is soft, 
insipid, and dripping with fat. But after the capon has 
been fed on a good place, it must be roasted in a proper 
manner, and for this purpose I care little about the 
jack. I very much prefer to have the spit turned by 
a boy of the family, or even by a dog.' 

"Madame de la Motte lost patience at the sort of 
honour paid to her by her husband's relation before 
four tall footmen who had been brought from Paris 
clothed in liveries covered with gold lace. * Sir,' said 
she to La Tour, in a spiteful manner, * I feel edified at 
your preference; it is the result of a country taste 
which we know you push to its fullest extent.' ' I agree 
with you there, madam,' replied La Tour ; ' country taste 
or family taste are much the same, and you know, 
madam, I value one just as much as I do the other.* 

" This conversation shortened supper. ' How do you 
think I have paid my score ?' inquired La Tour of me in 
a low tone of voice. * You have been almost too liberal,' 
replied L ^Not at all; only I was resolved to put 
down both husband and wife should they have the im- 
pertinence to ask me to admire anything. The mas- 


querade which has commenced this evening is a sort of 
triumph for these people, and I reserve for myself the 
part of the soldier who on the way tells wholesome 
truths to the hero of the festival V " 

Madame de la Motte called Beugnot into her room, 
and began complaining to him of the insolence of her 
husband's brother-in-law. " She told me," says Beugnot, 
" that her fortune had changed, that she was now in a 
good position, both as regarded herself and those be* 
longing to her, and that we were all interested in 
adopting a diflferent manner towards her. She hinted 
something of the very high connection she was keeping 
up at Versailles, and ended by remarking that she did 
not think she could remain with us the fortnight she 
had promised herself. I proffered her a first example 
of the new style of behaviour which she desired by not 
asking her a single question. I merely undertook to 
beg her brother-in-law to be more prudent for the future, 
without, however, anticipating much success from my 

The third day of the countess's sojourn at Bar-sur* 
Aube was occupied by her in paying visits to people in 
tlie neighbourhood. She dressed herself out with all the 
taste which can result from an excess of magnificence, 
her robes being of the finest Lyons embroidery, and she 
herself sparkling with diamonds. She had, moreover, 
a complete set of topazes, which she also took care to 
display. "She made herself," says Beugnot, "almost 


ridiculously engaging and familiar with the neighbouring 
nobility and gentry. Great and small were alike en- 
chanted with her. They returned her visits, but when 
she wished to go further, and give some little letes, the 
respectable women of the place excused themselves 
under various pretexts, and Madame de la Motte found 
herself reduced to the young men and the women of 
her husband's family, so thorough was the respect for 
manners at this time in a little provincial town. 

* Madame de la Motte,' said these good ladies to me, 

* is a charming woman, and we like her very much ; but 
why do you wish us to give our girls ideas of which they 
have no need, and which will perhaps awaken in them 
desires they can never gratify ?' 

"I was wanting,** resumes Beugnot, "neither in 
respect nor discretion with Madame de la Motte. She 
seemed to have completely forgotten our old relations, 
and on this point I was in unison with her. I had 
become to her simply a well-bred man with whom she 
could speak on any subject. She told me of the secret 
vexations she endured through the deplorable position 
of her husband's family. I consoled her as well as I 
could, always observing to her that a residence in a 
little town was in her case quite a mistake — ^that she 
ought to have an hotel at Paris and a chateau in the 
country. She replied that she did not wish to buy land, 
because she was about to obtain the estates belonging to 
her family, on which she proposed to build. The hotel 


in Paris she allowed to pass without notice, but she ad- 
mitted that she wished to possess one at Bar-sur-Aube, 
where she could spend the summer months until her 
projected chateau was built. I took tlie liberty of 
opposing this idea of purchasing a house at Bar-sur-Aube, 
and maintained that it would be in far better taste to 
inhabit a cottage while the chateau was being built by 
its side ; but Madame de la Motte, who had already 
received many valuable lessons on this subject, did not 
the less persist in her desire to display her magnificence 
in those places which had been witnesses of her former 
misery. She purchased, in spite of my remonstrances, 
a house at Bar-sur-Aube, for which she paid twice as 
much as it was worth, and then gave it up to architects, 
who considered it their duty to commit all the stupidities 
which the property admitted of, and a few more."* 

" As the period of the countess's sojourn at Bar-sur- 
Aube drew to a close, people grew angry with those who 
had held aloof from visiting her. M. de la Tour alone 
imderwent no change. I had begged of him to consider 
the notable alteration which opulence, though sudden, 
had wrought in the manners and behaviour of both the 
count and countess. ' I half agree with you,' replied he. 
* The wife is a hussy who has gained in penetration ; but 
the husband has lost in every way — he left us a fool and 
comes back to us a coxcomb. I persist in thinking 

• " ^Icmoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 35, et seq. 


badly of them, and even in speaking badly of them, so 
long as tliey do not reveal to me by what honest means 
they have acquired in the short space of six months 
what we now know them to be possessed of. Whom 
will they or you persuade that the king, the queen, the 
Count d'Artois, the contrcleur-general — in a word, I 
► know not what powerful persons — have thrown heaps of 
gold to people who simply asked for bread ? The age 
I know is fertile in extravagance, but not exactly of 
tliis kind. Husband and wife have spread a little report 
around that madame is in favour with the queen. I 
have noticed them at this for the last fortnight, and if 
they had mentioned a single word of it in my presence, 
I had a little story ready for them about the Countess 
de Gazon and the Queen of Congo with which I should 
have made all the lookers-on laugh at their expense. 
My dear friend,' continued La Tour, Hhey are alto- 
gether far too impeiiiinent, and it is really shameful that 
people should be duped so cheaply. Beh'eve every word 
they say if you please, but for my part I adhere to what 
I know. Now I know, through you, that madame has 
relations with the Cardinal de Eohan, since she has been 
conveyed five or six times to his eminence's hotel at 
your expense. Possibly she has since been transported 
there on her own light foot. Of all the acquaintances 
of this fine lady, the Cardinal de Eohan is the only one 
to whom prodigality on a grand scale is not impossible. 
There are then two conclusions — either he has supplied 


the money for all that we see, or else it has been stolen 
from him. I ask your pardon for the second horn of my 
dilemma, but only on condition that you grant me the 
first ; and yet I confess I can only with great diflSculty 
understand how a little village hussy like her can have 
succeeded in seducing a prince, a prelate, and a scape- 
grace of such importance." * 

A few days before her departure from Bar-sur-Aube 
the countess placed in the hands of young Beugnot a 
rouleau of fifty louis in discharge of certain small loans 
which he had at various times accommodated her with. 
" I explained to her," remarks Beugnot, " that I could 
not say exactly what she owed me, but that I was quite 
certain the amount was below 1200 francs.t * Never- 
theless take it,' replied she ; * and if there is anything 
over, give it to your mother for her poor pensioners.' " 
Beugnot, on making up the account, found he had been 
paid twenty louis too many, which in accordance with 
the countess's instructions he handed over to his mother. 
So favourable and lasting an impression did this act of 
generosity make on Madame Beugnot, that she could 
never afterwards be brought to believe in the truth 
of any of the crimes charged against this unhappy 

♦ " Mcmoires du Comte Beugnot,** vol. i. p. 41, et seq. 
t There were twenty-four francs or livres in the louis of those 



DEC. 178^1 — JAN. 1785. 


The countess and lier husband, the steward and the 
four tall footmen, tlie led horses and the travelling van, 
the outriders and the elegant lerline, returned to Paris 
at the close of November, 1784, when the De la 
Mottes proceeded, after all their desperate struggles 
towards this end, to enter at last into the coveted 
gaieties of the rank and fashion of the most brilliant 
capital in Europe. At the outset they did not share 
their good fortune with their sister, who was still passing 
a dull time of it at the Abbey of Jarcy. All they seem 
to have done was to resign to her the right of petition- 
ing in the name of Valois, for on the 30th of November 
in this same year we find her making one of those 
stereotyped appeals for assistance for which the family 
had now become notorious to the Abbe Bourbon, natural 
son of Louis XV.* Irritated no doubt at her having 

* This letter of Mademoiselle de Saint-Remi's Las obtained the 
honour of being preserved among the historical autographs in the 
Imperial Archives, 


refused to part with her pension, husband and wife de- 
termined to leave her to herself to enjoy in retirement 
its extremely slender benefits. 

Suddenly grown rich in the queen's name, after 
having successfully established a very general belief 
in her pretended intimacy with royalty, the countess's 
instinctive tact led her to perceive that a new style of 
living was indispensable on her part to maintain the 
delusion, and keep alive that credit which she intended 
employing as the basis of still larger operations. The 
very extravagance to which she was naturally inclined 
became consequently one of the chief elements in her 
system of deceit. It was no longer "alms" that she 
contemplated asking jfrom a carriage, since she had 
made the discovery that credulity was a mine which, 
properly worked, would furnish a far richer yield than 
charity was ever likely to do. 

Beugnot tells us that on his return to Paris he was 
confirmed in his opinion that the opulence of Madame 
de la Motte was due to her intimate connection with 
the Cardinal de Eohan, and that he regulated his con- 
duct towards her accordingly. " I presented myself," 
remarks he, " at her door with discretion : I went to 
eat at her house only when she did me the honour of 
inviting me ; and I took care to place her at her ease 
by affecting respect towards her. On her part she 
made me acquainted with her various projects, which 
she set out before me with that negligence which pre- 



supposes the certainty of success. She intended, for 
instance, to withdraw her brother from the navy — ^an 
ungrateful and stupid service in times of peace ; a 
regiment had been promised her for him. As for her 
husband, she had purchased him a step which would at 
once give him captain's rank, and she would by-and-by 
see if she could not get him named second colonel. 
With regard to her sister, she would not hear of her 
doing as she herself had done ; in other words, contract- 
ing some stupid marriage. If agreeable to her,, she 
should be canoness at Douxieres or Poulangy, as all the 
places at Remiremont were kept for ten years. ' If,' re- 
marked she, * I had espoused a man of name, and who 
frequented the court, that would have been of some 
use to me. I should then have got on much quicker ; 
as it is, my husband is to me rather an obstacle than a 
means. It is necessary that I should do something to 
make my name pass over his, which is, you know, con- 
trary to all decorum.' 

"When I visited Madame de la Motte, she never 
failed to introduce me to the company as a young 
magistrate, and always placed me immediately after 
the titled people. The tone of the house was, at least 
in those days, that of good company. I met there the 
Marquis de Saisseval, then a great gambler, rich, and 
currying favour with the court ; the Abbe de Cabres, 
councillor in the Paris Parliament; RouilI6 d'Orfeuil, 
intendant of Champagne ; the Count d'Estaing (one of 


the heroes of the American war, and subsequently in 
command of the National Guards of Versailles, when 
tlie chateau was stormed by the mob) ; the Baron de 
Villeroy, an officer of the king s body-guard ; the 
receiver-general Dorcy ; and Lecoulteux de la Noraye, 
who, while aspiring to the post of director of the 
countess's affairs and finances, dreamed of being one 
day appointed controleur-general of the finances of the 
nation, and who considered himself altogether * a most 
important personage, though he had only just wit 
enougli to be nothing worse than a fool.' " La Noraye 
was no favourite with Beugnot, who in after years 
knocked him down on a particular occasion for playing 
him some shabby trick when they were fellow-prisoners 
in La Force in the days of the Terror.* 

All the while that madame and her husband were 
showing off at Bar-sur-Aube, the cardinal was moping 
at Saveme, fretfully pacing up and down a favourite 
walk in the episcopal pleasure-grounds, which he had 
named the " Promenade de la Eose," in honour of the 
gracious gift of counterfeit royalty at the midnight 
interview in the park of Versailles. This walk, which 
led from the palace to the neighbouring woods, formerly 
went by the name of the " Eoute de Bonheur " (road of 
happiness), until the cardinal, to whom happiness still 
seemed hovering in the future, gave it its new designa- 

• " Memoires du Comte Beugnot," voL i. pp. 45, et seq,, 259, 
260, 262. 


tioiL* He had been banished to Saveme in remote 
Alsace by one of those billets bordered with vigneMe$ 
hleues, penned by the forger Villette, so that he might 
be out of the way while the De la Mott^s were enjoying 
themselves in their country retreat- 
On the countess's return to Paris, the correspondence 
between the cardinal and the phantom queen is speedily 
resumed. The letters that are now interchanged are 
more familiar and are even tender. The amatory pre- 
late, we may be certain, complained that the last meeting 
was too brief, implored permission to return to the ca- 
pital, and begged for another interview. Eeplies were 
doubtless sent, exhorting him to be discreet, and pro- 
mising to comply with his request at some future period. 
One thing, however, is quite certain : it was at this time 
that madame applied for and obtained in the queen's 
name the 100,000 francs from the cardinal, of which we 
have already spoken, for of the 50,000 francs received 
in August last every sou of course was spent. 

All this while the plans are being perfected for the 
successful carrying out of that grand scheme of fraud, 
which not only caused the greatest commotion through- 
out France, but may be said to have startled the entire 
civilized world by its audacity. The first incidents of 
the new intrigue appear to have been congenial. Some 
hanger-on of the countess's would seem to have sought 

* " Compte rendu de ce qui s'est pass^ au Parlement,*' &c, p. 92. 


out an emissary of the crown jewellers, employed to find 
a purchaser for the Necklace with the prospect of a 
commission for himself, and whispered in his ear that 
the Countess de la Motte was privately received by the 
queen, with whom she had both credit and influence, 
but that unusual reasons existed for not speaking 
publicly of this intimacy. He thought, however, that 
the countess, if she could only be induced to undertake 
the negotiation, was a very likely person to prevail 
upon the queen to buy the Necklace. This suggestion 
was duly reported to Bohmer and Bassenge, after which 
it appears the former waited on Madame de la Motte 
at her own house, and exhibited the matchless jewel. 
Everything else followed in due course. 

Though evidently interwoven with those strange 
fabrications in which she delighted to indulge, the 
countess's own relation of this first stage in the great 
fraud has a certain air of probability about it, and 
furnishes us with the ends of some of the threads in 
this entanglement. After citing the name of a specu- 
lator and schemer named Laporte, who was always 
hatching new projects for making money, and whom 
she had been the means of introducing to the cardinal 
with the view of drawing him into some of Laporte's 
grand undertakings, she observes : " This Laporte was 
a very active person, and constantly at my house ; I 
had stood godmother to one of his children. Achette, 
his father-in-law, was an intimate friend of Bohmer's. 


One (lay, when the two latter were at Versailles^ 
Achette said to Bohmer, * Are yon still saddled with 
yonr Necklace?' * Unfortunately I am,* answered 
Bohmer ; * it is a heavy burden to me — ^I would gladly 
give a thousand louis to any one who could find me a 
purcliaser for it/ It is most probable that from the 
date of this conversation my name was mentioned, 
Achette explaining to Bohmer how his son-in-law, 
Laporte, had access to me, and through me to the 

" One day Laporte having dined at my bouse, men- 
tioned to me, for the first time, the fatal Necklace, 
observing that he rested all his hopes on me; that if I 
would only say a word to the queen, he was convinced 
her majesty would make tlie purchase, and that the 
jewellers were ready to enter into any arrangements 
that might be agreeable to her." 

On this occasion, as well as on a subsequent one, the 
countess informs us that she declined to interfere, and 
though urgently pressed, would not listen to the sug- 
gestion. A third attempt to induce her to undertake 
the negotiation is afterwards made, she tells us, when 
Bohmer came to her house with Achette, bringing the 
Necklace along with him. 

" * Is it not a pity,' said Achette to me, * that so 
magnificent a jewel should leave the kingdom whilst 
we have a qtieen whom it would so weU become, and 
whom, I am sure, must at heart long to possess it ? 


" * I don't know that/ answered I ; * nor can I under- 
stand why you have applied to me to transmit your 
proposals to her majesty. I protest to you I have no 
opportunity of submitting them to her, not having the 
honour of approaching her.' 

" * Madame/ replied Achette, with a look full of mean- 
ing, * we are not come hither to pry into your secrets, 
still less to evince any doubt respecting what you do us 
the honour to tell us ; but believe me I am well ac- 
quainted with Versailles; I know what is going on 
there ; and when I took the liberty of introducing my 
friend to you, it was because I felt convinced that if you 
would honour him with your support, nobody at court 
is better able to render him the service we make bold 
to solicit/ 

" Bohmer's mouth was open : I saw he was going to 
speak to me of his gratitude ; so, to get rid of them 
both, I told them I would see if, by means of my con- 
nections, I could contrive indirectly to render them 
some service/'* 

These visits took place at the end of December. In 
January, 1785, the countess contrives to insinuate to 
the crown jewellers, through some of her high-class 
connections, that the queen reetUy does desire to have 
the Necklace. She openly states as much to the 
cardinal, whom, in the very depth of a bitterly-cold 

* "Memoires Justificatifs de la Comtesse de la Motte," p. 75, 
et seq. 


winter, she has summoned to Paris by the aid of s 
courier armed with one of those well-known and highly- 
prized billets, gilt-edged, or bordered with vignettes 
lleues, in which the queen is made to say: "The 
wished-for moment has not yet arrived, but I desire to 
hasten your return on account of a secret negotiation 
which interests me personally, and which I am unwilling 
to confide to any one but yourself. The Countess de la 
Motte wiU explain the meaning of this enigma." 

After reading this letter the cardinal longed for wings; 
still he was obliged to content himself with such fleet 
coursers as the maitres de posies along the line of road 
to the capital could provide him with. So, well wrapped 
up in furs, and snugly ensconced in the comer of a 
comfortable close travelling carriage, he is soon rolling 
rapidly over the two hundred and eighty miles of frost- 
bound road that intervene between the episcopal palace 
of Saveme and the Eue Neuve-Saint-GiUes ; and, no 
sooner has he learned the solution of the enigma^ 
and procured from the countess the address of the 
crown jewellers — at the sign of the " Grand Bal6ony," 
Rue Vendome — ^than, puffed up with the importance of 
the commission intrusted to him, he hies to Bohmer 
and Bassenge to open negotiations with them for the 
purchase of the costly gem. The cardinal had not far 
to go, for the Eue Vendfime (now the Eue Beranger) was 
only some ten minutes' walk from his hotel, being 
situated but a single street from the junction of the Eue 


Vieille-du-Temple with the Kue St-Louis (now the 
Rue Turenne). At the present day many of the houses 
have been rebuilt, and of those which were in existence 
at the time of our narrative only a couple in any way 
answer to the sign "-4w Grand Balcon" adopted by 
the crown jewellers. These are Nos. 11 and 22 ; the 
former — which is for the time being the Mairie of the 
3rd Arrondissement — a handsome building with an orna- 
mental ironwork balcony in front, before which is an 
open court, which one has no difficulty in picturing 
filled with the grand equipages and liveried lacqueys of 
the customers of our friends Bohmer and Bassenge. 

In the excitement of conversation the grand almoner 
indiscreetly blurted out what he believed to be the fact, 
but which he had been strictly enjoined to keep secret, 
namely, tliat the queen was the actual purchaser of the 
jewel, though her name was on no account to transpire 
in the business. The price eventually agreed upon for 
the Necklace was 1,600,000 francs (£64,000), to be paid 
in four instalments of equal amount at intervals of six 
months: the first instalment of 400,000 francs to fell 
due in August. But the crown jewellers, who had been 
advised to be cautious in dealing with the cardinal, 
required that the contract should be authorized by the 
royal signature. To account for this demand, they 
explained to the cardinal that they had heavy debts 
and liabilities which prevented them from parting with 
an asset of so much value without replacing it with 


adequate vouchers to satisfy their creditors (and notably 
BI. Baudard dc Saint-James, treasurer-general of the 
navy, to whom they were indebted in no less a sum than 
800,000 francs*) who had waited so long. 

Strange to say, the person who had cautioned the 
jewellers to act so guardedly was the great intriguanie 
herself, who, accompanied by her husband, had called 
upon Bohmer and Bassenge at seven o^clock on a raw 
January morning, a couple of hours or so before the 
cardinal, to announce his coming, when, after having 
reminded them that she had been no party to the 
transaction, she proceeded to recommend them not 
to come to terms without binding down the cardinal 
in such a manner as to make themselves secure.t That 
she took this step, so likely to frustrate her own object, 
was afterwards proved on the trial. Most persons would 
have thought that the probabihty of such a proceeding 
being fatal to her plans would have prevented her, if 
she meditated a fraud, acting in the way she did ; but 
does not the reader perceive that this most subtle of 
impostors had thereby secured, by anticipation, a strong 
plea in her favour to disprove her guilt ? 

The obtaining the queen's signature to the contract 
necessarily gave rise to some delay. The cardinal sent 
the deed as he believed to Marie-Antoinette through 
Madame de la Motte, with the intimation that it was 

* " Premier Interrogatoire du Cardinal de Rohan." 
t Deposition de Bassenge. 


only a form, and would be merely shown to the jewellers, 
and not delivered up to them. The countess, however, 
returns with the deed unsigned. Eoyalty is in dudgeon 
at its sacred name having been Jnade use of. The 
grand almoner was greatly distressed at this new 
obstacle, which he thought her majesty was inclined to 
aggravate ; but what was to be done ? 

Madame de la Motte returns a second time from 
Versailles, and pretends to have had a second audience 
with Marie- Antoinette. The queen, she says, was very 
angry with the cardinal for having introduced her name 
into the transaction, but had insinuated : 

" If inspiring confidence is all that is requisite, could 
not the cardinal have devised some other mode ? The 
cardinal is perhaps not aware of it, but I may tell you 
that I have bound myself by a formal engagement 
with the king not to sign any deed without his know- 
ledge. So the thing, you see, is impossible. Con- 
trive between you what you can do, or else renounce 
the purchase altogether. ... It seems to me that, as 
this document is only a formality, and as these people 
do not know my handwriting . . . But you will reflect 
upon it; still, once for all, I cannot sign it. At all 
events, tell the cardinal that the first time I shall see 
him I will communicate to him the arrangements I 
intend to make with him."* 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol i. pp. 340, 


The countess then explains that, returning home after 
this interview, and not reflecting on the serious conse- 
quences of using the queen's name in the manner 
suggested, she resoFves to counterfeit the royal signa- 
ture, and for that purpose applies to E^taux de Villette, 
the forger of the letters which to the last the countess 
always maintainerl to be genuine. 

"I explained to M. de Villette," she says, "the new 
aspect which this affair liad assumed, the cardinal's 
perplexity, the queen's dissatisfaction, the interview I 
had had with her majesty, and the meaning 1 attached 
to her expression that the jewellers were unacquainted 
with her handwriting. 

" Villette said, if I was certain that the queen had 
made use of the express words I had just repeated, it 
would appear to him, as it had appeared to me, that she 
wished me to understand it did not much signify whose 
hand inscribed the attestation, since the jewellers did 
not know her handwriting. * But,' added he, * neither 
the queen nor yourself suspect the risk a person runs 
by counterfeiting writings. That is an act which the 
law has included in the list of crimes under the name 
of forgery. We can however do this. Taking for 
granted the statement of the queen, that these people 
do not know her handwriting, it may be fairly supposed 
that they are equally ignorant of her form of signature. 
To sign Marie-Antoinette alone, according to your 
idea, would be a positive forgery ; but the metamor- 


phosis of an Austrian princess into a French one — 
to say, for instance, Marie- Antoinette de France — 
would really be unmeaning. If our object was to ob- 
tain this Necklace by a swindle, when the imposture 
came to be exposed such a signature would serve as a 
proof of it ; but as we have no reasonable doubt but that 
the jewellers will be paid, since they will have the car- 
dinal's guarantee privately supported by that of the 
queen, I think we may, without much fear of committing 
ourselves, submit to the necessity ; I will therefore do 
what I now explain to you. 

" * First, I shall not disguise my own writing ; and, 
secondly, I will give the queen the incorrect title of 
Marie-Antoinette de France. The contract being 
exhibited by the cardinal to Bohmer and Bassenge, 
they will not examine it too minutely, I'll be bound ; and 
you must promise me to bum it in my presence when 
the jewellers have been paid and the matter is at an end.' 

" I gave him my word of honour that I would do 
this, and he signed the deed according to our covenant. 
I left him directly afterwards, and drove at once to the 
cardinal. At first I intended to give him the contract 
approved and signed, without telling him how I had 
settled matters; but I reflected that Villette and I 
were not the safest judges; that the affair might be 
more serious than we imagined, and that if such were 
the case the cardinal might be placed in an embarrass- 
ing position. So I resolved to tell him all." 


Thereupon, according to Madame de la Motte's ver- 
sion, the cardinal was informed of the forgery and of 
the incorrectness of the signature, after he had seen the 
contract without detecting either. He acquiesced, we 
are told by the countess, in the fraud, merely observing 
that " since he had been deceived by it, it would be the 
game with the jewellers." * 

Such is the specious explanation given by Madame 
de la Motte of the forgery of the queen's signature to 
the contract. But amidst this farrago of falsehood — 
for there can be no doubt the queen's signature was 
appended in the absurd form described, owing to the 
ignorance of this pair of sharpers t — the simple truth 
remains that the deluded cardinal, hoping thereby to 
please the queen, had bought the Necklace of the 
jewellers on his own guarantee for one million six hundred 
thousand francs, backed with this fraudulent signature 
of Marie- Antoinette's. The contract had been drawn 
up with great care by the cardinal himseK, and was 
written with his own hand, since the matter was of 
course of too secret a nature o be intrusted to a pro- 
fessional engrosser ; and after having been exhibited to 
Bohmer and Bassenge for their private satisfaction, it 
was left in the cardinal's keeping. The unfortunate 

♦ " Memoires Jiistificatifs de la Comtesse de la Motte/' p. 93, et 
seq.j and ** Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 344, 
et seq. 

t Madame Cam pan states that *' Vu hon. — Marie-Antoinette " was 
the form in which the queen certified the accuracy of an account. 


dupe of course believed he still held possession of the 
royal guarantee, the grotesque inventions to the con- 
trary of Madame de la Motte, which we have just laid 
before the reader, being of no further moment than to 
expose her own duplicity. The confidence and mental 
satisfaction of the jewellers when they read the con- 
tract, ratified by majesty itself, was equal to that felt 
by the cardinal. "They read it," says the Eohan 
memorial, " and appeared full of joy ; they then re- 
turned it, but the cardinal requested them to take a 
copy of it, which they had not thought of doing. This 
copy they made themselves without the slightest doubt 
being raised in their minds by the strangeness of the 

We may instance as another proof of the countess's 
prompt mode of action, that by the end of January, 
1785, the whole affair was settled — in fact within six 
weeks after she had promised "to see if she could not 
contrive indirectly to render the jewellers some service ;" 
the famous Diamond Necklace which had been to them 
a source of grave anxiety for years was off their hands. 





When, in the autumn of the year 1781, the De la 
Mottes were chasing the Marchioness de BoulainviUiers, 
who they had heard was at Strasbourg, the notorious 
CagKostro was astonishing the good people of that 
famous town as much by his singular conduct as by the 
extraordinary cures he was represented to have per- 
formed. " Curious to behold so remarkable a personage, 
the cardinal," who was then at his episcopal palace of 
Savemcj " went over to Strasbourg, but found it necessary 
to use interest to get admitted into the presence of the-, 
illustrious charlatan. *If monseigneur the cardinal 
is sick,' said he, * let him come to me and I will cur© 
liim. If he is well, he has no business with me nor I 
with him.' This reply, far from oflTending the cardinal's 
vanity, only increased the desire he had to become ac- 
quainted with this new Esculapius. Having at length 
gained admission to his sanctuary, the cardinal fancied 
he saw impressed on the countenance of this mysterious 


and taciturn individual, a dignity so imposing that he 
felt himself penetrated with an almost religious awe, 
and the very first words he uttered were inspired by 
reverence. The interview, which was but brief, excited 
more strongly than ever in the mind of the cardinal the 
desire of a more intimate acquaintance. This gradually 
came about, the crafty empiric timing his conduct and his 
advances so skilfully, that without seeming to desire it, 
he gained the grand almoner's entire confidence, and 
obtained the greatest ascendency over him."* 

During the next two years or so, Cagliostro seems to 
have made the episcopal palace at Saveme his home 
whenever he felt so inclined. When the cardinal 
happened to be there, the count amused him by per- 
forming experiments in the laboratory which had been 
fitted up in a private part of the palace for his especial 
use — making, so the cardinal maintained, not only gold, 
but diamonds, under his very eye8.t But when the 
cardinal was away the crucibles were no longer in 
request, and the count would indulge in carousals, pro- 
longed far into the night, with the Baron de Planta, the 
cardinal's equerry and confidant, and a black sheep of 
the choicest breed, at which his eminence's matchless 
Tokay flowed like water.if 

• " Mdraoires i)Our servir," etc., par TAblxS Georgel, vol. ii. p. 47, 
tt seq, 

t See post, pp. 183, 184. 

♦ «* M6moire8 pour servir," etc., par TAbW Georgel, voL ii. p. 50. 

VOL. I. N 



In the memorial pubKshed in his behaK at the time 
of the Necklace trial, Cagliostro gives a most romantic 
account of himself. He is ignorant, he says, of the 
place of his birth, but was brought up while a child in 
the city of Medina, where he went by the name of 
Acharat, and lived attended by servants in a style of 
great splendour in apartments in the palace of the 
Mufti Salahayn, the chief of the Mussulmans. From 
Medina, he pretends, he was taken when quite a youth 
to Mecca, where he remained for three years petted by 
the scherif. He is next taken to Egypt, visits the chief 
cities of Africa and Asia, and eventually sails from Khodes 
for Malta, where apartments are provided for him in the 
palace of the grand master. Here, he says, he assumed 
the name of Cagliostro and the title of count. From 
Malta he proceeds to Sicily and Naples, thence to 
Kome, where he makes the acquaintance of several 
cardinals, and is admitted to frequent audiences of 
the Pope. He professes to have next visited Spain, 
Portugal, Holland, Russia, and Poland, and gives a list 
of the nobles of these countries with whom he had 
become' acquainted. At length, in September, 1780, he 
goes to Strasbourg, where his fame as a physician had 
already preceded him. Here, he asserts, with perfect 
truth, he cured the poor generally, and particularly sick 
soldiers and prisoners, without fee or reward. Strasbourg 
was soon crowded with strangers, who came either to 
see hiiu or to consult him. It is now that he makes 


the acquaintance of the Cardinal de Eohan, whom he 
accompanies to Paris to prescribe for the Prince de 
Soubise, suffering at the time from an accident to his 
leg. After a short sojourn in the capital he returns to 
Strasbourg, when being persecuted by a party in the 
town, it is quite certain that letters are written to the 
authorities in his behalf by the Count de Vergennes, 
minister for foreign affairs, the Marquis de Miromenil, 
keeper of the seals, and the Marquis de Segur, minister 
of war, who desire that every protection shall be afforded 

Cagliostro's story about his residence in Medina, and 
Jlecca and Egypi, and Khodes and Malta, is a tissue of 
impudent lies. The truth is, his real name was Joseph 
Bdlsamo, and he was the son of a small tradesman of 
Palermo, in which city he was bom. After a career of 
imposture and adventure — in the course of which he 
visited many of the chief cities of the Continent, passed 
over to England, and next went to Paris, where his 
wife, aged eighteen years, eloped from him, and was 
only restored to him through the intervention of the 
French police — he was picked up, while still a young 
man — being little over thirty years of age — by the 
sect of lUuniinati, who thought, and correctly thought, 
that they had discovered in him a willing and able 
instrument for the dissemination of their doctrines. 
His initiation into the mysteries of Illuminism took 
place in a cave some little distance from Frankfort- 


on-tbe-Maine, when he learnt for the first time that 
the object of the society of which he was now a 
member, was to overturn the thrones of Europe, and 
that the first blow was to be struck in France; that 
after the fall of the French monarchy it was proposed 
to attack Bome ; tliat the society had extensive resources, 
and was in the possession of enormous funds, dispersed 
among the banks of Amsterdam, Botterdam, Basle, 
Lyons, London, Venice, and Genoa, the proceeds of the 
annual subscriptions of its members. A considerable 
sum of money, which he afterwards pretended he had 
acquired by the practice of alchemy, was at once placed 
at his disposal, to enable him to propagate the doctrines 
of the sect in France. This was the origin of his first 
visit to Strasbourg in the autumn of the year 1780, 
when he adopted for his device the letters L. P. D., 
signifying Lilia pedibus dedrue — Trample the lilies 
under foot.* 

Cagliostro was one of those individuals who, for 
reasons of their own, envelop themselves in a maze of 
mystery, and are rarely seen through during their lives, 
because they address themselves to men's imaginations 
alone. By exciting wonder they disarm reason. He 
laid claim to many gifts and acquirements ; had studied 
medicine, was an adept at alchemy, and knew some- 
thing of natural magic. The acts which he performed 

* " Louis XVL/' par Alexandre Dumas, vol. iii. p. 154. 


were so contrived by his arts and wiles, that all his 
visitors (and they comprised persons of the highest 
rank and the most intellectual attainments) considered 
them to be marvellous, whilst the gaping multitude 
magnified every feat until it went far beyond this ideal 
He set no price on his public exhibitions, and darted 
looks of wounded honour at those who, he pretended, 
degraded him by offering him gold; whilst his hand 
was constantly open to the indigent, whom he waited 
on in their humble homes with advice, medicine, and 
money. His widespread acts of benevolence, and the 
luxurious style in which he lived, proved him to be 
rich, and yet none were able to discover the sources of 
his wealth. The houses of the most opulent citizens 
were thrown open to liim, and without seeking the great, 
but seeming rather to avoid them, he constantly found 
himself in their company. Among this class he had 
many proselytes, but none who believed in him so 
implicitly as the Cardinal Prince de Eohan, who, spite 
of the count's " perfect quack face," seems to have 
worshipped him as a being something more than 

A friend of the grand ahnoner's, the Baroness 
d'Oberkirche, who met Cagliostro at Saverne at this 
epoch, sketches his portrait for us in her ** Memoirs," 
and furnishes us with convincing proofs of the singular 
influence which the count had succeeded in acquiring 
over his credulous patron. " Cagliostro was anything 


but handsome," she observes, " still I have never seen a 
more remarkable physiognomy; above all, he had a 
penetrating look whicli seemed almost supernatural. I 
know not how to describe the expression of his eyes : it 
was at once fire and ice ; attracted and repelled you at 
the same time ; made you afraid and inspired you with 
an irrepressible curiosity. One might draw two dif- 
ferent portraits of him, both resembling him, and yet 
totally dissimilar. He wore on his shirt-front, on his 
watch-chain, and on his fingers, diamonds of large size, 
and apparently of the purest water. If they were not 
paste, they were worth a king's ransom. He pretended 
that he had niade them himself. All this frippery 
showed the charlatan miles off. 

" When Cagliostro perceived me he saluted me very 
respectfully. I returned his salutation without affecting 
either hauteur or condescension. There were fifteen of 
us at dinner; nevertheless, the cardinal occupied him- 
self almost exclusively with me, using a sort of refined 
coquetry to bring me over to his way of thinking with 
regard to Cagliostro, with whom he was perfectly in- 
fatuated. I was placed on the cardinal's right hand, 
and during dinner he tried by every means to enforce 
his convictions upon me. I resisted, politely but firmly ; 
he grew impatient, and on leaving table volunteered 
me his confidence. Had I not heard him with my own 
ears I could never have believed that a prince of the 
Roman church, a Eoluin, an intelligent and honourable 


man in so many respects, could have allowed himself 
to be brought to the point of abjuring both his dig- 
nity and free will at the bidding of a chevalier de 

" ' In truth, baroness, you are very hard to convince,' 
remarked the cardinal ; ^ what ! has not all that he has 
told you, all that I have just related, satisfied you? I 
must then avow everything. Understand, at least, that 
I am about to confide to you a secret of importance.' 1 
was greatly embarrassed. I did not wish to be the 
depositary of any of the cardinal's secrets, and was 
about to excuse myself when, divining my intention, 
the prince exclaimed : ' Do not say no ! but listen to 
me. You see this ?' 

" The cardinal showed me a large solitaire which he 
wore on his little finger, engraved with the arms of the 
house of Rohan ; it was a ring worth 20,000 francs at 
least. ' It is a fine stone, my lord,' observed I ; ' I have 
been already admiring it.' ' WeU, it was he who made 
it ; created it out of nothing. I saw him mysel£ I was 
present, with eyes fixed upon the crucible, and assisted 
at the operation. Is this science ? What do you think 
of it, baroness ? They tell me that he is only luring me 
on, that he cheats me ; the jeweller and engraver have 
valued this brilliant at 25,000 francs. You will at 
least admit that he is a strange sort of sharper to make 
such presents as this.' 

^*I acknowledge I was stupefied. The Prince de 


Eohan perceived it, and continued, certain of his victory: 
^ But this is not all : he makes gold ; he has made in 
my presence, in the crucibles of the palace, five or six 
thousand francs' worth. 1 shall have more of it — ^I shall, 
in fact, have any quantity— rhe will make me the richest 
prince in Europe. These are not dreams, madam, these 
are certainties. Think, too, of his prophecies fulfilled ; 
of the miraculous cures he has performed. I tell you 
that he is not only a most extraordinary, but a sublime, 
man, and one whose goodness has never been equalled ; 
the charities he bestows, the benefits he confers, pass all 

" * Am I to understand your eminence,' inquired I, 
*that you have given him nothing for all this — have 
not made him the smallest advance, have made him no 
promise, given him no written document which com- 
promises you ? Pardon my curiosity, but since you 

wish to make me a confidant of these mysteries, I ' 

' You are right, madam,' replied the prince, * but I can 
assure you that he has asked nothing, has received 
nothing from me.' 'Ah! my lord,' I exclaimed, *it 
must be that this man reckons on obtaining from you 
many dangerous sacrifices since he buys your unbounded 
confidence so dearly. Were I in your place I should 
be extremely cautious; one of these days he will lead 
you too far.' The cardinal only answered by an incre- 
dulous smile ; but I am eertaiii that later, at the time of 
the Xecklace affair, when Cagliostro and the Countess 


de la Motte had cast him to the bottom of the abyss, he 
recalled my words."* 

Singularly enough, Cagliostro arrived in Paris just at 
the time the cardinal was making the final arrange- 
ments with the crown jewellers for the purchase of the 
Necklace. Whether or no he was summoned thither by 
the cardinal himself we are unable to say, but if the 
Abbe GeorgeFs statement is to be relied on, it is quite 
certain that the grand almoner consulted Cagliostro 
respecting the business of the Necklace prior to con- 
cluding the negotiations. The abb^ says : " This Python 
mounted his tripod; the Egyptian invocations were 
made at night in the cardinal's own saloon, which was 
illuminated by an immense number of wax tapers. The 
oracle, under the inspiration of its familiar demon, pro- 
nounced that the negotiation was worthy of the prince, 
that it would be crowned with success, that it would 
raise the goodness of the queen to its height, and bring 
to light that happy day which would unfold the rare 
talents of tlie cardinal for the benefit of France and of 
the human race." f 

The Countess de la Motte, who it will be remembered 
had formerly met Cagliostro at Strasbourg, renewed her 
acquaintance with him in the salons of the Palais-Car- 
dinal, where she was now a constant visitor. For a 
time it was an afiair of diamond cut diamond between 

♦ " Mdmoires de la Baronne d'Oberkirche," vol. i. pp. 129, 144. 
t " M6moires ix>ur servir," etc., par TAbbd Georgel, vol. ii. p. 69. 



them. She flattered the arch impostor with the finest 
art, appeared to be his dupe, and broke out into loud 
exclamations of surprise when he performed his tricks 
and practised his delusions in her presence. The crafty- 
cheat was himself cheated. By degrees he became 
persuaded that she was really a confidant of the French 
queen, that she had credit at court, and would soon 
have power. Fully convinced of her influence, and 
perceiving, as he thought, that his patron the cardinal 
would by her assistance retrieve his political fortune, 
he encouraged that sanguine prelate, and worked, as we 
have seen, upon his imagination, with a view to dispel 
any lingering doubt he might chance to entertain. So 
infatuated did Cagliostro become under the influence 
of his own delusions on the one side, and the spell of 
this enchantress on the other, that the countess would 
appear to have controlled the crafty necromancer even 
in the performance of his own speUs.* 

Cagliostro, after he was regularly settled in Pari9, 
became a frequent visitor at the countess's house — ^he 
and madame, we are told, were like two fingers on one 
hand — where he was received with an amount of respect 
verging on to reverence. The De la Mottes and he 
were close neighbours, for he lived at the Hotel de 
Savigny, in the Eue Saint-Claude, only a couple of 
streets off. " The house which he occupied, and which 

* ^Yc jo.vV, vol. ii. p. 38. 


was afterwards the residence of Barras, was one of the 
most elegant of the quarter. In the salon, decorated 
with an oriental hixury, and bathed in a kind of semi- 
daylight when it was not resplendent with the blaze of 
a hundred lights, the pursuits of the philosopher and 
conspirator might be divined by the side of the pro- 
jects of the quack. There one saw the bust of Hippo- 
crates, and, in a black frame, inscribed in letters of 
gold, a literal translation of Pope's Univei'sal Prayer."* 
Here Cagliostro lived in state, giving balls, assemblies, 
and audiences at which he insolently offered his hand 
to his fair disciples to kiss, while he treated his male 
visitors, and at times even the cardinal himself, with 
marked disdain. f 

Young Bengiiot, who met Cagliostro at one of Madame 
de la jMotte's petits soupers, tells us that the countess 
previously warned him that she would be obliged to 
disarm the inquietude of Cagliostro, who, for no reason 
whatever, invariably refused to sup if he thought that 
any one had been invited to meet him. Moreover, she 
begged Beugnot to ask him no questions, not to inter- 
rupt him when he was speaking, and to answer with 
readiness any inquiries he harl addressed to him. " I 
subscribed," says Beugnot, ^ to thefie conditions, and 
would have accepted even harder ones to gratify my 

* " Histoire de la Kdvolution Frarj^-aiw.-," i^ar Louw IJlatJC, vol. ii. 
p. 82. 

t *' Eeponse pour la Couitesse de la Motte," p. 27. 


curiosity. At half- past ten the folding doors were 
thrown open, and the Count de Cagliostro was an- 
nounced. Madame de la Motte precipitately quitted 
her arm-chair, rushed up to him and drew him into a 
comer of the salon, where I presume she begged him to 
pardon my presence. Cagliostro advanced towards me 
and bowed, without appearing at all embarrassed at 
perceiving a stranger. He was of medium height, 
rather stout, had a very short neck, and a round face 
ornamented with two large eyes sunken in his head, and 
a broad turn-up nose ; liis complexion was of an olive 
tinge ; his coiffure was new in France, his hair being 
divided into several little tresses, which, uniting at the 
back of the head, were tied up in the form known as 
the ' club.' He wore a French coat of iron grey em- 
broidered with gold lace, and carried his sword stuck 
in the skirts, a scarlet vest trimmed with point d^Es- 
pagne, red breeches, and a hat edged with a white 
feather. This last article of dress, was still necessary 
to mountebanks, dentists, and other medical artistes 
who made speeches and sold their drugs out of doors. 
Cagliostro's costume was relieved by lace ruffles, several 
costly rings, and shoe-buckles of an old pattern but 
brilliant enough to pass for very fine diamonds. 

" There were at supper only the members of the 
family, among whom I include Father Loth, minime of 
the Place Eoyale, who reconciled, I know not how, his 
sacred functions with the place of second secretary to 


IMadame de la Motte. He used to say mass for her on 
Sundays, and charged himself during the rest of the 
week with commissions at the Palais-Cardinal which 
the first secretary thought beneath his dignity. Neither 
must I count as a stranger the Chevalier de Montbreul, 
a veteran of the green rooms, and still a good conver- 
sationalist, who was prepared to aflSrm almost any 
mortal thing, and was found, as if by chance, wherever 
Cagliostro appeared, ready to bear witness to the mar- 
vels he had performed, and to offer himself as a positive 
example miraculously cured of I know not how many 
diseases, of which the names alone were suflSciently 

" There were then nine or ten of us at table ; Madame 
de la Motte had on one side of her Cagliostro and 
Montbreul, and I was on her other side, facing the 
first, whom I made a point of examining by stealth, and 
still did not know what to think of him ; the face, the 
style of dressing the hair, the whole of the man, im- 
pressed me in spite of myself. I waited for him to 
open his mouth. He spoke I know not what jargon, 
half Italian, half French, plentifully interlarded with 
quotations in an unknown tongue, which passed with 
the unlearned for Arabic. He had all the talking to 
himself, and found time to go over at least twenty dif- 
ferent subjects in the course of the evening, simply 
because he gave to them merely that extent of develop- 
ment which seemed good to him. Every moment he 

.- '--i.^-^V^T^^Sfip^JP 


was inquiring if he was understood, whereupon every*- 
body bowed in turn to assure him that he was. When 
starting a subject he seemed like one transported, raised 
his voice to the highest pitch, and indulged in the most 
extravagant gesticulations. The subjects of his dis- 
course were the heavens, the stars, the grand arcantim, • 
Memphis, transcendental chemistry, giants, and the 
extinct monsters of the animal kingdom. He spoke, 
moreover, of a city in the interior of Africa ten times 
as large as Paris, and where he pretended he had cor- 
respondents." Beugnot further mentions, that in be- 
tween his rhapsodies he would chatter the most frivolous 
nonsense to the Countess de la Motte, whom he desig- 
nated his dove, his gazelle, and his white swan. After 
supper he addressed numerous questions to Beugnot, 
one following another with extraordinary rapidity. To 
all the count's catechising the young advocate inva- 
riably replied by a respectful avowal of his ignorance, 
and subsequently was surprised to learn from Madame 
de la ]\Iotte that Cagliostro had conceived a meet 
favourable opinion, njt merely of his deportment, but 
likewise of his knowledge.* 

* " Memoirc'S Ju Comte Beiiguot," vol. i. p. 59, et seq. 



1785. FEB. 

The Cardinal de Rohan obtained possession of the Neck- 
lace early on the morning of the 1st of February, 1785, 
and had not long to wait ere he was honoured with the 
queen's commands to deliver it into her royal custody. 
We shall give two accounts of how this delivery 
was efifected — namely, the story told by the countess, 
and the statement made by the cardinal in his 

The cardinal of course expected, from having rendered 
tlie queen a service for which she could not feel other- 
wise than grateful, that he would have been permitted to 
deliver the rich jewel to Marie- Antoinette in person, 
and when he received from Madame de la Motte the 
following note, purporting to be written by the queen, 
lie imagined his expectations were on the point of being 
realized : — 

" This evening (Feb. 1), at nine o'clock, you must be 


at the couDtess's house (at Versailles) with the casket 
and in the usual costume. Do not leave until you hear 
from me." 

The countess lodged, as the reader will remember, at 
" La Belle Image," in the Place Dauphine, and thither, on 
this sharp winter's night — it was a hard frost, and the 
ground was almost like glass — the cardinal proceeded, 
wrapped up in a long great-coat, and wearing a slouched 
hat that concealed his features. One can imagine the 
countess's nervous state on this eventful evening — can 
see her posted at the window on the watch, peering 
through the frost on the panes into the dark and almost 
silent Place, eager for a glimpse of the grand almoner 
with the coveted treasure. At last two figures are seen 
crossing the broad square from the Rue de la Pompe, at 
tlie end of which is the Hotel de Eohan — one is the car- 
dinal, the other a man-servant he has brought with him, 
and who carries the casket, and whom he dismisses a 
few doors off " La Belle Image." 

"At half-past eight o'clock," says Madame de la 
Motte, "the cardmal called upon me in his disguise, 
carrying under his arm the casket containing the Neck- 
lace, which he set down on a chest of drawers. At half- 
past nine Leselos, that faithful messenger of her majesty, 
whom slie so often employed in delicate missions — ^Les- 
elos, a man perfectly well known to the cardinal, and 
the necessary confidant of all the little irregularities 
mentioned in the correspondence between him and the 


queen — called upon me with a letter from her majesty 
which ran thus : — 

" * The minister (the kiog) is at present with me, 
and I cannot tell how long he will stay. You know the 
person I send. Deliver the casket to him, and stay 
where you are. I do not despair of seeing thee to-day." 

"The cardinal," contmuesthe countess, ** having read 
this note, delivered to the faithful Lesclos, with his own 
hands, the casket containing the Necklace which he had 
himself deposited on the chest of drawers. Lesclos went 

Such is Madame de la Motte's statement. Let us 
compare it with the cardinal's, which we extract from 
one of the memorials produced in his defence at the 
trial : — 

" On his (the cardinal's) arrival at Versailles he called 
upon Madame de la Motte, who was living in the Place 
Dauphine ; he took with him Schreibert, his valet de 
chanihre, who had charge of the casket The cardinal, 
when they had reached the house, took it from him and 
went upstairs by himself. He found Madame de la 
Motte alone, and presented to her the rich burden he 
was carrying. 

" Some time after a man, who announced himself as 
a messenger from the queen, entered the apartment. 
The cardinal withdrew cautiously into an alcove which 

^ '* Meinoires Justificatifs de la Comtesse de la Motte,** p .99. 
VOL. I. O 


was half oi>en. The man delivered a note. Madame 
de la Motte sent him for a moment outside the room, 
then came towards the cardinal and read to him the 
letter containing the order for delivering up the casket 
to the bearer. The man was then called in again, the 
casket was given into his hands, and he took his de- 
parture. . . . Who was that man ? To the cardinal he 
seemed to be the same that he had descried in the park 
of Versailles on the night of the 11th of August, 1784, 
close to Mademoiselle d'Oliva."* 

We will undertake to answer the cardinal's inter- 
rogatory. The messenger was an accomplice of the 
countess's : none other than the forger Eetaux de VH- 
lette, made up for the occasion ** with large black eye- 
brows and pale face," and the letter of which he was the 
bearer was one of his own numerous forgeries. At any 
rate the countess's femnie de chambre^ Bosalie Briffaut, 
deposed to having opened the door to him at the precise 
hour on that particular night, when he immediately 
entered the countess's apartment. 

Success is attained at last ! The great fraud is con- 
summated! The woman who when a child we have 
seen running along the streets with naked feet, the 
tatters of poverty her only covering, and begging of 

* '* ^Idmoire pour le Cardinal de Rohan," p. 39. All the per- 
sons concerned in the famous nocturnal meeting differed with regard 
to the date at which it took place. Madame de la Motte, as we have 
iilrcad}' stated, fixes it on the 28th of July. 


lords and ladies to *' bestow a few sous on a descendant 
of Henry II. of Valois, King of France," has at length 
obtained possession of the famed Diamond Necklace, 
valued at 160,000 francs, or £64,000 sterling! The 
jewellers, delighted at having got the troublesome piece 
of hijouterie off their hands, invite the countess to a 
grand dinner, and madame being pleased to accept the 
invitation, the affair came off on the 12th of February, 
when doubtless both the countess and her absent friend 
the cardinal were toasted in bumpers of the choicest 
Burgundy, and more than one fine speech was made 
which, had it been accurately reported, would have read 
rather curiously a few months afterwards. 

It had been arranged, it seems, between the jewellers 
and Laporte, Achette, some baron — name unknown, but 
said to be a relative of the cardinal's — and a money- 
lending goldsmith named Grenier,* the same who had 
purchased the De la Motte pension, and who, we expect, 
had got mixed up in the Necklace affair through his 
connection with the countess, that a commission of 
200,000 francs was to be paid to the negotiators, of 
which amount madame says it was proposed she should 
receive one-half in articles of jewelry, such as diamond- 
rings and earrings, a couple of solitaires, a locket set 
with diamonds, and a watch and chain for herself, with a 

* Miswritten "Eegnier" in the official records. Regnier was 
another goldsmith with whom the De la Mottes had considerable 
dealings, bought their service of plntc of, &c. 


couple of diamond rings and a watch and chain set with 
diamonds for her husband. When Laporte sent her a 
written memorandum of these conditions, and begged 
her acceptance of them, she declined, and desired him to 
say no more on the subject, as she had done so little 
towards effecting the sale of the Necklace, and as, more- 
over, it was not her habit to receive presents for services 
rendered ! * 

When the count, who had not yet been let into the 
secret of his wife's intention with regard to the Neck- 
lace, came to hear of this refusal, he blamed her very 
much, and it was arranged with Grenier that he should 
inform the other negotiators of the countess's willingness 
to accept the proposed presents. It does not appear, 
liowever, that she ever received them. The commission 
was probably dependent on the payment of the purchase- 
money for the Necklace, and as this was never paid, the 
arrangement with regard to the commission most pro- 
bably fell to the ground. 

Baudard de Saint- James, treasurer -general of the 
navy, and the principal creditor of the crown -jewellers, 
is equally delighted with them at the Necklace being at 
last sold. He has now before him the pleasant prospect 
of receiving twenty-four livres in the louis on his large 
debt, and from a feeling of gratitude presses, through 
Boliiner and Bassenge, the offer of his services upon the 

* " Premier Interrogatoire de Madame de la Motte." 


cardinal, to whom, he said, he should be proud to be of 
use. The cardinal, who, with all his large resources, is 
continually in want of money, knew, we suppose, what 
this meant, for he forthwith borrowed 50,000 francs 
from the treasurer-general of the navy on his simple 
note of hand.* 

This celebrated financier's real name was Baudard ; 
but when he had grown rich he made an addition to it, 
and called himself Saint-James, after the village from 
whence he came. This name he in his turn bestowed on 
a celebrated chateau and park still existing at the end 
of the Avenue de Neuilly, the same in which the Duke 
of Wellington and his staff took up their quarters when 
the Allies entered Paris after the battle of Waterloo, 
and which was formerly the residence of the famous 
Cardinal de Eetz, afterwards of Le Normand (uncle of 
Madame de Maintenon, and the richest fermier-general 
of his time), by whom the chateau was rebuilt, and sub- 
sequently of the treasurer-general of the navy, who dis- 
sipated his immense fortune upon it in fancies of the 
wildest kind. He first enlarged the chateau, then 
redecorated and furnished it in the most magnificent 
style ; next extended and relaid out the park, planted 
miniature woods, constructed artificial grottoes and 
waterfalls, erected Chinese temples and Turkish kiosques, 
and formed a superb winter-garden, in which he accu- 

♦ " Premier Interrogatoire du Cardinal de Rohaxu" 


mulated all the rare flora of Asia and America. The 
feature of the park, however, was its grand rock, the 
quarrying and transit of which is said to haye cost 
Saint-James the incredible sum of 1,600,000 francs, or 
£64,000* — exactly the price of the Diamond Necklace 
— and is known even at the present day by the name of 
" Saint- James's Folly." What with his reckless expen- 
diture upon this chateau and park, and his subsequent 
losses by Bohmer and Bassenge and others, it is not 
to be wondered at that Baudard de Saint-James came 
to grief at last — failed, in fact, for a million sterling, 
got sent to the Bastille, which he only left to die of 
poverty and grief a short time afterwards. 

* " Histoire du Bois de .Boulogne," par J. Lobet, p. 14L ' 



1785. Feb.— Aug. 
the diamond necklace vanishes! 

The gigantic swindle it must be confessed had been 
effected in a masterly manner. Weeks, and even 
months, passed by, and no one seemed to entertain the 
slightest suspicion that any fraud had been perpetrated. 
But this was only the calm that precedes the storm. 
The crown jewellers, Bohmer and Bassenge, made it no 
secret that they had succeeded in disposing of tlieir 
Necklace. They, however, gave out that it had been 
purchased by the Sultan of Turkey for a favourite 
sultana. Bobmer afterwards stated that they did this 
at the request of the cardinal, who had received the 
queen's commands to that effect. Of course Madame 
de la Motte was the real person who caused this report 
to be spread to allay impertinent curiosity. The cardinal 
flattered himself that he had placed his sovereign under 
an obligation, and was expecting both favour and power, 
and was confiding these hopes rather incautiously to his 



friends. The De la Mottes were openly living in almost 
Oriental luxury. Nobody would have supposed that any 
great wrong had been done. 

On the 3rd of February, two days after the Necklace 
liad been delivered to the cardinal, he met Bohmer 
and Bassenge at Versailles. " Well," said he to them, 
"have you made your very humble acknowledgments 
to her majesty for having purchased your Necklace ?' 
The jewellers, careless upon this point now the Necklace 
was fairly oflf their hands, had not done so ; the cardinal 
upbraided them with their neglect, a fact admitted at 
the triaL* 

Months glide by without the slightest suspicion 
arising, although the grand almoner is somewhat 
puzzled at the queen never wearing the Necklace in 
public. Every time he meets the jewellers he repeats 
his inquiry whether they have humbly thanked the 
queen, and renews his very earnest recommendation for 
them to do so. At length, in the last week of Jane, 
after the countess has more than once hinted to him 
that the queen thinks the Necklace dear, the cardinal 
receives a letter written in the queen's name by the 
forger Villette, complaining of the excessive price of 
the jewel, and demanding a reduction of 200,000 francs, 
in which case 700,000 instead of 400,000 francs would 
be paid on the 1st of August, "otherwise," the letter 

* " Premier Interrogatoire du Cardinal de Rohan," 


went on to say, "the article will be returned."* The 
crown jewellers murmur, as well they might, at this un- 
expected demand, but rather than be again burthened 
with the Necklace, after consulting with Saint-James, 
give an unwilling consent to the new arrangement. 
When all is finally settled, by the advice of the cardinal 
they address to the queen the following letter, the very 
words of which are dictated by the grand almoner 

" Madame, 

" We are extremely happy to think that the 
last arrangements which have been proposed to us, and 
to which we have submitted with respectful zeal, will be 
received as a new instance of our submission and de- 
votedness to your majesty's commands, and we feel 
truly rejoiced to think that the most beautiful set of 
diamonds in the world will be worn by the best and 
greatest of queens. 

" BOhmer and Bassenge. 

" July 12, 1785." t 

When the above letter was written, some slight feel- 
ings of uneasiness respecting the Necklace had taken 
possession of the minds of the two partners ; for Marie- 
Antoinette had appeared in public on several occasions 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 350, 
and ** Premier Interrogatoire du Cardinal de Rohan.*' 
t Deposition de Bassenge. 

' i-.RTfiCSPfer 


when such an ornament might very properly have been 
worn, but she did not display it Bohmer had sought 
interviev^'s with the queen, who had carefully avoided 
him, fearing to be again pestered with his importunities, 
and since his threat of committing suicide, regarding 
him as partially deranged. 

The cardinal, as we have already remarked, was per- 
plexed by the circumstance that the queen did not wear 
the Necklace, and still more by the freezing aversion 
she continued to show him whenever they met in public. 
The fictitious letters too had become more rare, also 
much briefer than heretofore, and very cold. The ap- 
prehension mutually shared by the cardinal and the 
crown jewellers may be traced in the letter just 
quoted, in which "the most beautiful set of diamonds 
in the world " is pointedly alluded to, and something 
like a hint given that they ought to be " worn by the 
best and greatest of queens." 

This letter was delivered by Bohmer to Marie-An- 
toinette with a diamond epaulette and buckles which 
the king had ordered of the crown jewellers as presents 
to the Duke d'Angouleme on the day of his christening. 
The queen, who had just returned from mass, went at 
once into her library, where Madame Campan was 
present. " She held the note in her hand ; she read it 
to me," says Madame Campan, "observing that as I 
had in the morning guessed the enigmas in tlie Mercure^ 
I could no doubt discover the meaning of tliis, which 


that madman Bohmer had just handed to her. These 
were her very words. The note contained a request not 
to forget him,* and expressions of his happiness at 
seeing her in possession of the most beautiful diamonds 
that could be found in Em-ope. As she finished reading 
the note she twisted it up and burnt it at a taper 
which was standing lighted in her library for sealing 
letters, and merely recommended me, when I should see 
Bohmer, to request an explanation of it. * Has he as- 
sorted some new ornaments?'! added the queen. 'I 
should be very vexed if he has done so, for I don't 
intend to make use of his services any longer.' "J 

In the middle of the month of July, but a very short 
time before the first instalment fell due, the countess, 
feeling the necessity for gaining time, called upon the 
Cardinal de Eohan, and told him that the queen would 
be constrained to devote the 700,000 francs, which she 
had put aside for the payment of the moiety of the 
purchase-money due on the 1st of August, to other 
purposes, and she begged that the cardinal would see 
the jewellers and obtain a postponement, which the 
queen thought could not be at all diSicult,§ until the 

* Madame Campan's memory appears to have "been at fault here. 

t The reader will have observed that specific mention is not made 
in the jeweller's letter of the Necklace itself, which Marie-Antoinette, 
in common with everybody else, had no doubt heard had been sold 
to the Sultan. 

t "Memoirs of Marie-Antoinette," by Madame Campan,vol.ii.p.227. 

§ " M6moires pour servir," etc., par TAbb^ Georgel, vol. ii. p. 92. 



1st of October, The cardinal received this message with 
evident consternation, whereupon Madame de la Motte, 
to reassure him, told him that she had seen in the 
queen's hands notes to the amount of 700,000 francs, 
which her majesty had designed for the payment of the 
instalment in question, and a day or two afterwards she 
would appear to have brought him a letter from the queen 
on the subject.* There is no help for it — ^for needs must 
when such a charioteer as the countess drives — so the 
cardinal does as he is bid, somewhat out of temper, it is 
true, by this time with her majesty's unbusinesslike 
ways, which bid fair, he tells the jewellers, " to turn his 
head." Bohmer and Bassenge show such evident signs 
of dissatisfaction at this new variation of the contract, 
that to quiet them the prince feels constrained to tell 
them a fib, namely, that he had himself seen in the 
queen's hands the 700,000 firancs in question. This 
statement he repeats to Baudard de Saint-James, whose 
interest in the matter we know, and who makes it his 
business to be kept informed of any hitches that arise in 
this troublesome Necklace afiair. Prompted no doubt 
by Madame de la Motte, the cardinal seems to have 
hinted to the financier that it would be a good oppor- 
tunity for him to secure the queen's favour, and with it 
the cordon rouge, of which Saint-James was particularly 
ambitious, by lending her majesty this 700,000 francs 

* See Appendix to vol. ii. of the present work. 


for the payment of the first instalment. Saint-James 
was not unwilling ; still he was over cautions, and said 
that on hearing one word from the queen the amount 
should be forthcoming.* Georgel says that the reason 
the afiair fell through was because the forger Villette 
was, as will afterwards appear, away at that particular 
juncture at Bar-sur-Aube, and the written word conse- 
quently was not forthcoming until it was too late,t 
owing to which lucky accident Saint-James saved his 
700,000 francs, which the countess would certainly 
have spirited away after her usual fashion if the chance 
had only been afforded her. 

After consulting with their most pressing creditors, 
Bohmer and Bassenge give a reluctant consent to the 
postponement asked for; but while the afiair is still 
under consideration, the countess, getting alarmed, brings 
the cardinal 30,000 francs, which she tells him the 
queen has sent as interest on the retarded payment. 
Thirty thousand francs as interest on seven hundred 
thousand francs for two months, or at the rate of nearly 
twenty-six per cent., and the client, too, a queen! 
Madame de la Motte had evidently foreseen the fa- 
mous axiom of Field Marsha] the Duke of WeUington, 
though in an inverted form. With her, bad security 
implied high interest. 

This 30,000 francs, we are told by the Abb6 Georgel, 

• ** Premier Interrogatoire du Cardinal de Rohan." 

f " Mdmoires pour servir," etc., par I'AbW Georgel, vol. ii. p. 80. 


only confirmed the most credulous of mortals in the 
conviction he entertained of the entire truth of all 
that Madame de la Motte had asserted. He at once 
hastened to the jewellers, who accepted the amount, not 
as interest, but on account of the principal. A few 
days afterwards, namely, on the 3rd of August, Bohmer, 
who occasionally visited the father-in-law of Madame 
Campan, went down to his country house at Crespy — 
whether or not by invitation from Madame Campan 
does not appear — when Madame Campan repeated to 
him all that the queen had desired her to say. Bohmer, 
she tells us, seemed petrified, and asked how it was that 
the queen had been unable to understand the meaning 
of the letter he had presented to her, 

" I read it myself," replied Madame Campan, " and 
I could make nothing of it." 

Bohmer observed that he was not surprised at that, 
as there was a certain mystery in the affair respect- 
ing which she was ignorant, but of which he would 
inform her fully if she would accord him a private 

" When I had got rid of the persons who required my 
presence in the drawing-room," says Madame Campan, 
'*I went with Bohmer down one of the garden-walks." 
Here the promised explanation was given, on hearing 
which Madame Campan was " so struck with horror," 
** so absorbed in grief," that a storm of thunder and 
rain came on while they were talking together with- 

BOHMER's interview with MADAME CAMPAN. 207 

out exciting her attention. During this conversation 
Bohmer stated that the queen, having changed her 
mind respecting his "grand Necklace," and having 
determined to purchase it, had employed the Cardinal 
de Eohan as her agent in the transaction. 

Madame Campan at once told the crown jeweller that 
he was deceived, for the queen had never spoken to the 
cardinal since his return from Vienna, and there was 
not an individual at court less favourably looked upon 
than the grand almoner. 

" You are deceived yourself, madam," replied Bohmer ; 
" the queen must see him in private, for it was to his 
eminence that she gave 30,000 francs which were 
paid me on account ; she took them in his presence* 
out of the little secretaire of Sevres porcelain next 
the fireplace in her boudoir. This the cardinal told 
me himself." 

Bohmer further stated that he had in his possession 
all the notes signed by the queen, and that he had even 
been obliged to show these to various bankers in order 
to induce them to grant him an extension of time for 
liis payments. 

Madame Campan, thunderstruck at what she heard, 
assured poor Bohmer that he was the victim of a 
detestable plot ; whereupon the jeweller confessed that 

• This, if tme, was a piece of vain boasting on the cardinal's part, for 
it is quite certain that he received the thirty thousand francs from Ma- 
dame de la Motte, who professed to have brought them from the queen. 


he began to feel alarmed, as the cardinal had declared 
to him that the queen would be certain to wear the 
Necklace on Whit Sunday, and he, Bohmer, was greatly 
astonished when he saw that she did not have it on. 
On asking Madame Campan what she thought he 
ought to do, she advised him to go at once to the 
Baron de Breteuil, and tell him candidly all that had 
passed, and to be ruled entirely by him. Instead of 
doing this Bohmer hurried off to the cardinal. What 
transpired at this interview is not known, but the 
following memorandum, in the grand almoner's hand- 
writing, was found in a di-awer at the Hotel de Stras- 
bourg at the time a search was made for the cardinal's 
papers : 

" On this day, 3rd August, Bohmer went to Madame 
Campan's country house, and she told him that the 
queen had never had the Necklace, and that he had 
been cheated." 

Bohmer must have spoken to the cardinal beforehand 
of his contemplated visit to Crespy, for the cardinal 
admitted that, having regard to the queen's injunction 
to keep her name a perfect secret in the affair of the 
Necklace, he urged Bohmer not to speak to Madame 
Campan on the subject, and in the event of any ques- 
tions being asked him to say the Necklace had been 
sent abroad.* 

* " Douxi^me InteiTogatoire dii Cardinal de Rohan." 


The half- crazy jeweller next hastened to Little 
Trianon, but failed in obtaining an interview with 
Marie- Antoinette. A day or two afterwards, the queen 
having sent for Madame Campan to rehearse with her 
the part of Bosina, which she was to play in Beau- 
marchais' comedy, "The Barber of Seville," at her 
private theatre at Little Trianon, took an opportunity 
of asking her why she had sent Bohmer to her (who 
had been to speak to her, saying that he came at 
Madame Campan's request), when she did not wish 
to see him. 

" The expression," remarks Madame Campan, " which 
this man's name produced on my features must have 
been very marked, for the queen observed it, and com- 
menced questioning me. I begged her to see him ; I 
assured her that it was necessary to her tranquillity ; 
that an intrigue was being carried on of which she was 
ignorant; that it was a grave one, since agreements 
signed by her had been shown to people who had 
lent money to Bohmer. Her surprise and annoyance 
were great. She made me relate several times the 
whole of my conversation with him, and complained 
bitterly of the vexation she felt at the circulation of 
forged notes signed with her name; but she could 
not conceive how the cardinal could be involved in the 
affair. This was a labyrinth to her, and her mind was 
lost in it. She ordered me to remain at Trianon, while 
she sent off a courier to Paris, xmder a pretext which I 

VOL. I. p 


have now forgotten. He returned the next mornings 
the very day of the representation of the comedy, which 
was the last amusement the queen allowed herself in 
this retreat."* 

* " Memoirs of Marie-Antoinette/* by Madame Gampan, yoL ii 
pp. 9, 12, 279. 



1785. Feb. — June. 

the diamonds abe dispebsed. — count de la motte 
goes to england on business. 

The De' la Mottes had spirited away the Necklace it 
is true, but how were they to turn it iuto hard cash ? 
Every working jeweller in France knew this famed 
piece of bijouterie by repute almost as well as if he had 
had a hand in its manufacture. The only plan, therefore, 
was for them, somehow or other, to remove the diamonds 
from their settings, and to dispose of them piecemeal. 
The first the De la Mottes contrived to do after a fashion 
by means of a knife or some such instrument ; the last . 
they found a difficult and even dangerous undertaking. 
On the 15th of February* the countess's first secretary 

* It is important that this date should be noted ; for the circum- 
stances which transpired on it, and which are chronicled in the police 
records, effectually dispose of the theory advanced by certain writers 
— such as M. Alexandre Dumas, in his ** Louis XVI.*' (vol. iiL p. 194, 
et seq.) — who maintain that Marie- Antoinette really purchased the 
Necklace through the instrumentality of the Cardinal de Rohan, 
and, after keeping it something like three months, returned it to the 
jewellers by the hands of Madame de la Motte, on finding that sho 


and the forger of the queen's signature to the contxact 
with the jewellers, Retaux de Villette, who was of 
course us deep in the plot as the De la Mottes them- 
selves, was intrusted wdth about forty of the smaller 
stones to sell to two Jew diamond -merchants named 
Adam and Vidal for four hundred francs apiece. Vidal, 
believing the diamonds to be stolen, gave information 
to the police, and the consequence was that Villette 
was arrested and subjected to an examination, in the 
course of which he was constrained to give up the 
name of the Countess de la Motte as that of the person 
who had intrusted him with the diamonds to sell. 
Madame being well known of old to M. Lenoir, lieu- 
tenant-general of police, to whom it will be remem- 
bered one of her begging letters was referred,* and her 
reputation being of the shadiest in her particular "jwar- 
/ier," M. Lenoir gave directions to the inspector who 
had arrested Villetto to make diligent search at the 
" Bureau de Surete " for information respecting any re- 
cent robbery of diamonds. Nothing w^hatever being dis- 
covered to implicate Villette in the least degree, he was 
discharged, and the diamonds were restored to him.t 

was iinable to raise tb« money to meet the first instalment. While 
asserting that Madame de la Motte was really the queen's confidant, 
the writers referred to are forced to admit that she betrayed her 
trust, and converted the Necklace to her own use. 

* See ante, p. 67. 

t Disposition de "N^idal, and Deposition de Brugniferes, inspecteur 
de police. 


This was a narrow squeak for Villette, who naturally 
enough declined putting his liberty in jeopardy a second 
time. The consequence was that, burdened though 
the De la Mottes now were with diamonds, they were 
unable to turn them to profitable account. If attempt- 
ing to dispose of a few of the smallest stones excited 
all this suspicion, whatever would come to pass, thought 
they, if any quantity of the larger brilliants were 
publicly offered in the market ? The thieves are 
for the moment at their wits' ends, and do not appear 
to have been particularly fertile in their expedients, 
for what next suggests itself to them is to get 
hold of rather a softish young fellow, calling himself 
Jean -Charles -Vincent de Bette d'Etienville, whom 
Eetaux de Villette has met with at some cafe — singu- 
larly enough the Cafe Valois — and under the assumed 
characters of the Dame de Courville, personated by 
Madame de la Motte, the Sieur Augeard, her steward, 
personated by Villette, and the Councillor Marsilly, 
personated by Count de la Motte, to make him their 
pretended confidant in a cock-and-bull story about the 
lady desiring to get married to some gentleman of 
title (with a view of legitimatizing a child she has had 
by some very great nobleman), to whom a bonus of 
one hundred thousand francs would be given on the 
day of the wedding. They represented, however, that 
before this arrangement could be carried into effect, it 
would be necessary to dispose of the lady's diamonds, 


which were valued at four hundred and thirty-two 
thousand francs ; and it was proposed to Bette that he 
should take them to Holland, and sell them to the 
diamond merchants of Amsterdam — madame of course 
either accompanying him, or dogging his footsteps to 
ensure his not giving them the slip. Bette, although 
he found out a gentleman of title ready and willing 
to save a lady's reputation at the price of one hun- 
dred thousand francs, cash down, seems to have drawn 
back at this latter suggestion, which foreboded danger 
he fancied ; and all madame's powers of fascination and 
persuasion proving of no avail, this abortive scheme 
had to be abandoned.* 

All this was of course very disheartening. To have 
plotted and schemed, and watched and waited, and 
after doubts and misgivings, and positive fears and 
dangers, to have at length achieved success, and then 
for success to prove barren, was something awftd. For 
the moment it seemed as though there was nothing to 
be done except to barter away as many diamonds as 
they could, and to have others reset to wear as personal 
ornaments. It was certainly no use hiding so much 
brilliancy under a bushel. At the commencement of 
March we find the Count de la Motte strolling into the 
shop of Furet, elockmaker to the king, Kue St. Honors, 
with whom he had had previous dealings, and buying 

* "M^moire pour Bette d'Etienville," and Deposition de Bette 



from him three dooks^ price three thousand seven hun- 
dred and twenty francs, and giving him a couple of 
diamonds, which the jeweller values at two thousand 
seven hundred francs, on account. A day or two after- 
wards m£tdame herseK calls with a number of diamonds, 
which she wishes to have mounted encircling a watch ; 
but Furet explains to, her that the stones are too large 
for this purpose, and suggests mounting them as brace- 
lets.* She also exchanges a diamond with a Jew for a 
couple of china pomade pots, and pays a visit to the 
goldsmith Eegnier, of whom she had bought a pair of 
diamond bracelets and the handsome service of silver 
plate with which it will be remembered she astom'shed 
her Bar-sur-Aube connections in the preceding year, 
paying for the same with the cardinal's money, and 
commissions him to set a couple of large diamonds 
which she brings with her as rings, one for herself and 
the other for her husband.t 

Transactions of this character, however, did not put 
them in possession of the one thing needful — namely, 
ready cash. Diamonds were with them as plentiful as 
blackberries, but diamonds are not meat and drink, and 
are at best but an indififerent circulating medium, and 
the De la Mottes were getting painfully hard up. The 
countess, however, proved herself as usual equal to the 

By selling, unknown to her husband, a parcel of 
* Deposition de Furet. t D^pomtion de Eegnier. 



twenty-two diamonds to one Paris, a jeweller, to whom 
she had been introduced by M. Filleul, a lawyer of 
Bar-sur-Aube, who occasionally visited them in the 
Eue Neuve-Saint-Gilles, for the sum of fifteen thousand 
francs, and subsequently disposing of sixteen more 
diamonds to the same person for the sum of sixteen 
thousand francs,* madame foun(l herself in sufficient 
funds to pack Count de la Motte over to England 
with a letter of credit for a couple of thousand crowns,! 
and the bulk of the larger diamonds belonging to the 
Necklace. These diamonds, which the countess had 
first declared were sold at the request and on behalf of 
the Cardinal de Rohan, she afterwards pretended she 
had received as a gift from the queen, and it will be 
noticed at the outset of the following narrative that the 
count takes up this cue, although he stated to the 
English jewellers that they were a family heirloom. 
This narrative of the coimt's is not wanting in circum- 
stantiality, still, like everything else emanating from 
the De la Motte mint, it has the customary false stamp 
upon it, more particularly in that portion relating to 
the amount said to have been received for the diamonds 
he succeeded in disposing of, as we shall by-and-by 
show. It should be remembered that this statement 
was not made public until long after the fact of the 

* " Premier Interrogatoire de Madame de la Motte." Also jpostf 
p. 226. 
t De'position de Perregaux, banqiiier. 


sale and purchase of the diamonds in question had been 
proved beyond a shadow of doubt by the English 
jewellers concerned in the transaction. 

" I arrived in London," says the count, " on the 17th 
of April, 1785, with the Chevalier O'Neil, who was 
perfectly acquainted with the object of my journey. 
As he knew the countess was admitted to the queen, I 
made no mystery to him of the present she had received 
from her majesty y nor of my motive for parting with the 
diamonds in London. I had a letter of credit on Messrs. 
Morland and Co., to whom I went the day after my 
arrival. On making inquiry for the most noted 
jewellers, I was ^directed to Jeflferys and to Gray ; 
I first saw Jefferys, who lived in Piccadilly, told him 
I had some diamonds to dispose of, and left him my 
address. The next morning he came to my lodgings, 
where I showed him the eighteen oval stones that 
belonged to the Necklace, and acquainted him with 
the price which the cardinal had fixed. He requested 
me to let him take them home in order to examine 
them, and offered me his acknowledgment, which I 
accepted. He promised to bring me an answer in four 
days; the next day I set out with Chevalier O'Nei 
for Newmarket. During five days that we remained 
there, I gained by betting nine hundred and sixty 
guineas, sixty of which I expended in travelling expenses, 
the purchase of clothes, and various other articles. 

^' Being returned to London, I went to Jeflferys, who 


told me that a gentleman had offered four thousand 
pounds sterling; that he could not pay ready money, 
but would give notes at six and twelve months' date, 
and would find ample security. I told him I would 
consider of it, took back my diamonds, and returned 
him his acknowledgment The same day I went to 
Gray's in New Bond Street,* left with him the largest 
oval stone, and directed him to come to me the next 
day, when I would let him see a greater quantity ; the 
same day I purchased of him a self-winding watch. 
The next day he came, with a Jew named Eliason, I 
intrusted him with the same stones I had left in 
Jefferys' hands ; he told me he had already examined 
them, and that a broker whom Jefferys employed had 
brought them to him. I then let him know the offer 
that Jefferys had made me, and the terms of payment, 
adding, that not knowing Jefferys, nor the person he 
had recommended to me, I did not choose to part with 
80 considerable a property upon credit. That befddes, 
I proposed staying but a few days in London, whither I 
might probably never again return, and that I did not 
think proper to leave anything behind me that might 
create any anxiety. 

"He answered that I was perfectly in the right, 
and that if we agreed on the price he would pay me 

* Gray's shop was No. 13, and the largest in New Bond Street. 
The house, which is within two doors of Long's hotel, must have 
been quite a new building at the time Count de la Motte had 
dealings with the crack jeweller of that day. 


ready money. I told him my price: he took away 
the diamonds, and promised to bring an answer the 
following day ; which he did, but still accompanied by 
Gray. He made me an offer of three thousand guineas, 
which I would not accept After pointing out stones 
that had flaws and other defects they left me, with an 
assurance that the offer they made me for ready money 
was very adequate ; and that I should not meet with a 
more eligible one. I let them go away, telling them I 
would keep my diamonds rather than part with them 
at that price. 

" Next morning they returned, and asked to survey 
the diamonds a second time : I permitted them. O'Neil 
was present, as well as my valet de chamhre. Eliason 
then drew out of his pocket a pearl necklace, consisting 
of two very beautiful rows, a snuff-box set with brilliants 
and pearls, with a medallion on the lid, and several 
parcels of pearl seed. He valued these several articles 
at about five hundred and sixty pounds sterling. I said 
that if he would give me four thousand pounds, together 
with those articles, the bargain was struck. He ex* 
claimed loudly, and then made a motion to go, offering 
three thousand pounds and the articles I had selected 
— a proposal which I rejected. 

" In the interim Jefferys made a second application ; 
I told him my resolution was to sell them for ready 
money only. I then delivered to him thirteen stones 
of the first quality I possessed; the two finest, which 


belonged to the Necklace, not having been given to the 
countess ; and no doubt but the^queen made a present 
of them to Mademoiselle Dorvat, or some other woman 
in her intimacy, for there were several which were 
similar. I had selected two, one intended to be set in 
a ring for the countess, the other for myself. Regnier, 
my jfeweller at Paris, set them before my departure 
for London.* Both myself and the countess commonly 
wore them. The cardinal has seen them both. 

" I called the next day at Gray's to purchase several 
articles in steel ; there I found Eliason, who told me I 
was over -tenacious, that his offer was a very fair one. 
He showed me some very fine pearls for a pair of brace- 
lets, and a ring forming a neck-button ; I went into a 
separate apartment, where we entered into a bargain. 
After two hours' dijBSculty on both sides we at length 
agreed for the eighteen oval stones, viz. three thousand 
pounds sterling ready money ; the pearl necklace of two 
rows, valued at two hundred pounds, the snuff-box one 
hundred and forty, the pearl-seed one hundred and 
twenty, and a diamond star which I took in Gray's 
shop, valued at three hundred. 

*' This was the first bargain. When I had received 
the money and jewels, he told me that Jefferys' broker 
had brought hi-m other diamonds which were no doubt 
my property ; that if I chose to sell them, I had better 

* See antCj p. 215. 


do business with him than with another : that I should 
gain by it the commission and some ready money. I 
went the same day and took out of Jefferys' hands the 
thirteen stones I had left in his possession. He had 
come to the knowledge of my dealing with Gray, and 
being vexed at having missed the opportunity of making 
the purchase himself, he upon that account pretended, 
as will be seen hereafter, that he had acted respecting 
the diamonds with more propriety than Gray, for that 
he, Jefferys, surmising the diamonds to have been 
stolen, had given notice at a police office (which in faict 
was a falsehood *), and had refused to buy them. He 
afterwards the more readily made a declaration to this 
purpose before a certain notary named Dubourg, at the 
request of M. de Carbonnieres, agent for the cardinal, 
as he said he believed me to be in Turkey, and de- 
pended upon never seeing me again in England. His 
behaviour to me when I returned to London will show 
how delicate this Jeflferys was in his conduct ; since he 
came to me after judgment was passed to ask me 
whether I had not any diamonds to dispose of, telling 
me he would be the purchaser, and allow me a greater 
advantage than Gray would. It will soon be seen what 
answ^er I made him, and the method I took in order to 
make apparent what the justificatory writings produced 
by the cardinal consisted in. 

* Which in fact was not a falsehood. See Jefferys' deposition, 
given in the " Pieces Justificativcs pour le Cardinal de Rohan.*' 


" The thirteen stones taken fix)m Jefferys I carried 
to Gray, telling him I would come the next day to his 
shop myself, and that he might appoint Eliason to be 
there at the same hour. The departure of Chevalier 
O'Neil prevented my keeping the appointment. He 
had received a letter from his brother and another 
from his colonel, requiring his return with all possible 
speed to join his regiment by the 15th of May. He 
had not been able to obtain a longer leave of absence 
as he hoped ; the troops the emperor was then marching 
towards Holland were the occasion of the orders he 
had received : he was therefore forced to leave me in 
London. He took charge of several purchases I had 
made, and of the parcel of pearls I had got in exchange. 
As he went by the coach, he took his place the day 
before at Mr. Guyon's office, where he found the Ca- 
puchin McDermott, a professed spy, who for the things 
made known to me by his own confession, (and those 
certainly are the most harmless,) deserves to be made 
an example of. The Capuchin knew Chevalier O'Neil, 
with whom he renewed acquaintance ; and finding in 
the course of conversation he had come over with me, 
he begged he would introduce him to me, which the 
chevalier did. He told me that as I did not under- 
stand English he would be my interpreter, and do me 
all the little services in his power. I accepted of his 
obliging offer, and that day he dined with me. He had 
been procurator of his order at Vaffy, six leagues 


distant from Bar-sur-Aube ; he knew my family, and 
had seen me, by his account, a child. 

"In this, my first interview, I did not communicate 
to him anything relative to my having diamonds to 
dispose of; in short, I acquainted him with no particu- 
lars beyond that I had money to remit to Paris. He 
answered that he knew a merchant in the City named 
Motteaux, that if I negotiated through his means he 
would allow me the same advantage as to traders, 
whereas Mr. Hammersly would deal with me as with a 
nobleman. He calculated the benefit I should reap by 
placing that sum with Mr. Motteaux ; and as it seemed 
to me rather considerable, and he persuaded me that 
Mr. Hammersly would not make me the same allow- 
ance, I determined to go to Mr. Motteaux, whither he 
accompanied me. I delivered to him the three thou- 
sand pounds sterling I had already received on the 
former bargain." 

McDermott, it seems, when he and the Count de 
la Motte were taking a stroll together in Kensington 
Grardens, questioned the count, in an off-hand Irish way, 
as to the sources of his wealth, and hinted that he must 
have made some lucky coups at the gaming-table— one 
had not to know the count long to discover that he was 
a practised gambler — ^whereupon the count replied, in 
the coolest manner possible, that he was not partial to 
" play." " The truth is," said he, " I married Madame 
de la Motte, with her slender income of eight hundred 



francs, against the wishes of my family, as I had not a 
single franc of my own ; but we came up to Paris, when 
Madame and the Countess d'Artois recommended us 
to several of the ministers, who in their turn recom- 
mended the countess to lay her case before the queen^ 
She did so, was taken into favour, and hence our present 

" Let us return now to the thirteen diamonds I had 
left with Gray. When the Chevalier O'Neil was gone 
I went to that jeweller, who immediately sent into the 
City to let Eliason know I waited for him at his house. 
He came, but we made no bargain ; eight or ten days 
passed away in fruitless meetings and considerations. 
They often told me they wondered how a gentleman 
should have such a knowledge of diamonds as to ascer- 
tain the exact value of them ; but that I certainly was 
sensible that such articles were difficult to dispose of : 
that they should perhaps be obliged to keep them two 
or three years upon their hands, duriug which time the 
interest of the money was lost, and other things to the 
same purport. At length, after much trouble and 
attendance, we came to a settlement for the thirteen 
stones, for the sum of two thousand pounds sterling, 
ready money ; a ring, convertible into a neck-button, 
valued at two hundred pounds sterling, and for which I 
lately got but one hundred ; a parcel of very fine pearls 

* Deposition de McDermott. 


for the mounting of a pair of bracelets, valued at a 
hundred and fifty pounds ; another parcel of pearls for 
sixty pounds, and a pair of girandole earrings, valued at 
five hundred pounds. Such were the two bargains I 
made with Eh'ason in presence of Gray. Six diamonds, 
which formed the rose of two oval ones, I exchanged 
at Gray's for a medallion set round with brilliants, 
two steel swords, a shirt-pin, a pair of asparagus tongs, 
and a wine syphon. Four more diamonds which were 
between tlie rose and the four tassels were likewise 
exchanged at Gray's for a ring, still in my possession, a 
small hoop of diamond-seeds, a lady's pocket-case, satin 
and gold, with all its furniture, a pair of steel buckles, 
and a miniature. 

" I had sixty diamonds left, arising from the tassels, 
twenty-two from the scollops, and the stone which 
formed the button. Out of the sixty I selected twenty- 
eight, which I gave to Gray to set in drop earrings ; 
and two-and-twenty of the scollops to make into a neck- 
lace of one single row. I then had left only thirty-two 
stones arising from the tassels, and the stone forming 
the button. I chose the sixteen finest, which I kept 
unmounted, and the remaining sixteen I parted with to 
Gray, at the rate of eighty pounds the carat, out of 
which I bought in his shop sundiy small matters not 
worth mentioning. Thus terminated all my negotia- 
tions for diamonds in London. 

"I had still remaining the button stone, which I 
VOL. I. Q 


showed to Mr. Morland, asking him whether he could 
not find an opportunity of selling it to my advantage. 
He said he would let an acquaintance inspect it, and let 
me know his answer in two or three days. He did so 
by telling me he had the stone in his bank, and that 
one thousand guineas had been offered for it, which he 
believed might be carried to twelve hundred. He pro- 
posed my calling in Pall Mall to take the diamond, and 
from thence go into the City to Mr. Duval's, the person 
who made the offer ; but that he believed it was not 
for himself. We met with Mr. Duval, who showed me 
several articles in jewelry. I told him my design was 
not to purchase any, since I was, on the contrary, come 
to treat with him about a diamond which Mr. Morland 
had given him to inspect. After surveying it a second 
time, he told me that the person to whom he had shown 
it offered but one thousand pounds, which he (Duval) 
looked upon to be its full value. I took back the 
diamond, and resolved to keep it till I found a means 
to dispose of it more advantageously. The same day I 
gave it to Gray to set in a ring. 

"Let us now proceed to the enumeration of those 
stones ihat were sold and exchanged in Paris. Before 
my departure for England, the countess had delivered 
to 3L Filleul some diamonds, which she had kept 
privately, that had formed part of the scollops and 
knots of the tassels ; she desired him to sell them for 
liLT, Mild pay her the money, charging him not to make 


me acquainted with it He sold the whole parcel to 
one Paris, a jeweller, for the sum of twenty-eight thou- 
sand i'rench livres (francs). Two stones, part of the 
scollops, were exchanged by me for two pendulum 
clocks at one Furet's, in the Eue St. Honore, with 
twenty-five louis-d'or in addition. One diamond, in 
like manner from the scollops, was set in a ring by 
Regnier, my jeweller. I had a chain in small brilliants 
which Franks the Jew had sold me ; that I gave to 
Regnier, adding a few small diamonds which belonged 
to the knots of the tassels, the whole of which he made 
into a chain, which the cardinal's counsel valued at 
forty thousand livres. I with much diflSculty parted 
with it for sixty pounds sterling in London. It was 
nearly the same with every particular ; they were, in 
order to obtain their ends, obliged to multiply the price 
for which every article sold in a like proportion ; and 
thus, from this false estimation, endeavour to prove 
that the whole of the Necklace had been in my pos- 

" I had now left in all sixteen diamonds which I had 
brought back from London, four-and-twenty very small 
ones, which were on the sides of each oval stone at the 
bottom of the tassels, twenty-eight encircling the two 
large oval stones, two small ones on each side of the 
button, eighteen of the small size, six of which held the 
wo oval stones between the scollop, and the twelve 
others which were immediately adjoining to the ribbon 


at top. The roses and what held the tassels were not 
yet taken to pieces. I delivered the whole to Eegnier, 
out of all which he selected the best diamonds, and 
nearly of an equality, to encircle the top of a bonbon- 
niere and mount a small pair of drop earrings which 
the countess wanted to make a present of. The re- 
mainder I directed him to sell, for which he got thirteen 
or foui-tcon thousand livres. These made up the 
number of what I sold, as well at Paris as at London. 
Let us now recapitulate. 

" I received in ready money in London jive thousand 
jxmnds sterling from Mr. Eliason, and fifty or sixty 
pounds from Mr. Gray. 

" In exchange I received a medallion, a pair of giran- 
dole earrings, a ring, a shirt-pin, a hoop, two steel 
swords, a pair of steel buckles, one pound of pearl-seed, 
two rows of pearls forming a necklace,, a mount for 
bracelets, a small parcel of pearls, a neck-button con- 
vertible into a ring, a snuff-box, a pair of asparagus 
tongs, a wine syphon, a lady's pocket-case, satin and 
gold with appurtenances, a miniature, and a pen-case of 
roses valued at sixty pounds sterling. Some few other 
small articles I had from Gray's shop, as needles, knives, 
steel forks, spring-pincers, scissors, a pair of silver buckles, 
an opera-glass, a small steel watch-chain. 

" I sold at Paris to M. Paris several diamonds to the 
amount of twenty-eight thousand livres, and I received 
nearly fifty loiiis-d'or for a part of the pearl-seed carried 


from London by Chevalier O'Neil. The remainder of 
the pearl-seed was sold to Mordecai, a Jew residing in 
the Rue aux Ours. 

" I have already said I had delivered to Gray twenty- 
two stones to set in a necklace, and twenty -six for drop 
earrings. I had acquainted him with the day of my 
departure, and he had promised the work should be 
completed ; yet the day previous thereto he showed me 
all the pieces, only sketched, assuring me there was a 
great deal more work than he had at first imagined, and 
that if I would leave them with him he had an oppor- 
tunity of conveying them to Paris within a fortnight. I 
left him the diamonds with my address, and set out 
upon my journey on a Sunday morning with the Capu- 
chin McDermott, who attended me as far as Dover. At 
parting with him I made him a present of a snuff-box 
with a very handsome painting on the lid, and defrayed 
his journey back to London. 

" When I left Paris I had taken credit for two thou- 
sand crowns; I won at Newmarket near a thousand 
pounds sterling ; out of both which sums I expended a 
hundred guineas in saddlery, harness, and race-horse 
body-cloths, a hundred guineas more for a phaeton, a 
hundred and fifty guineas in English stufis and clothes 
for myself and servants ; the rest was spent in travelling, 
and during my six weeks' stay in London, which will 
not appear extraordinary when it is known I had taken 
up my residence at one of the principal hotels in that 


town, that I kept two servants, a hired coach, and two 
siiddle horses, that I often gave entertainments, and that, 
keeping the most fashionable company, I was obliged to 
phiy and enter into expensive pleasures. 

" All I now had left of the famous Necklace were two 
rings — one for myself, the other belonging to the coun- 
tess — a small diamond mounted on a plum-coloured 
stone, a pair of drop eanings, and a circle on a black tor- 
toiseshell-box, and what I had left with Gray — ^namely, 
the necklace of twenty-two stones and the earrings. 

" Thus I have given a minute detail of the diamonds 
I possessed, and of the manner in which I had disposed 
of them. 

" From the account I have kept and have just set 
forth of all the diamonds I had in my possession or 
that of the countess belonging to the Necklace, and by 
comparing it with an exact representation thereof en- 
graved on a scale of the size of the diamonds, it appears 
that the queen had kept tv)o hundred and ffty-six 
diamonds of the same magnitude, ninety-eight smaller 
ones of the same form, and the two finest diamonds of 
the first size. The two hundred and fifty-six diamonds 
were what composed the most beautiful part of the Neck- 
lace, on account of the assemblage and the regularity of 
so great a number of stones." * 

Unfortunately for the count's reputation for accuracy, 

* " Memoires Justificatifs de la Comtesse dc la Motte»" p, 194, 
et seq. 



a sworn aflRdavit of Gray's, setting forth a true extract 
from his ledger, and produced at the time of the trial, 
gives the following version of his dealings with the 
count. This not only shows a considerable variation of 
price in respect to several articles received in exchange, 
but yields in round numbers a total of nearly three 
thousand pounds in excess of the amount admitted by 
the count to have been received : — 

Mmsieur le Comte de Valo 

is, of London, 

Dr. to Egbert Gray 


May 20th, 


£ 8. 


A medallion set with diamonds 
A diamond ring . 

94 10 

Prices quoted 

by Count de 


A i^earl knot for a lady 

52 10 

A hand fire-screen 

1 4 

A funnel and glass 


A purse .... 

4 14 


A handsome steel sword 


Ditto ditto 


Two toothpick-cases . 

12 12 

A carving-knife and fork 

1 4 

A pair of blue steel buckles . 


2000 needles 

1 10 

A strong casket . 

5 5 

A diamond hoop ring . 

13 13 

Four razors .... 


Setting a diamond ring 

1 8 

A ring-case .... 


A silk pocket-case, with fittings 


plete .... 

12 12 

A corkscrew 


A handsome star-shaped diamond 1 


1 400 


; >.:-t;wjv;i:i 


£ 8. d. 

A pair of asparagus tongs . . . 2 12 6 

A gold watch 38 

A purse 4 14 6 

A cord for a cane 110 

A pair of scales for diamonds . . 110 

A wine syphon 5 5 

A pair of spring pincers . . . 10 6 

A pearl necklace 170 

1800 pearls 270 

A diamond aigrette in the form of a rose 60 

A pair of steel buckles '. . . . 18 18 

A watch-chain 6 16 6 

A handsome pair of diamond girandole 

earrings 600 

A brilliant ring 100 

A diamond snuff-box .... 120 

A diamond shirt-button . . . 28 

A pair of buckles 7 7 

Ditto ditto 3 13 6 

A parcel of pearl-seed and other pearls, 

for embroideiy 1890 

Paid in cash 6090 

Total . £10,371 6 

Credit by value received in various 

diamonds £10,371 6 0* 

Prices quoted 

ly Count da 

la Motte. 




While the count was away leading a life of ease and 
pleasure — bargaining, it is true, about diamonds to-day, 
but "betting at Newmarket" on the morrow, riding 
about town in his "hired coach" or on his ^^ saddle 

' Pieces Justificatives pour le Cardinal de Kohgin." 


horse,** with his groom behind, giving " occasional enter- 
tainments at the principal hotels/' " keeping the most 
fashionable company," and " playing deeply," and " en- 
tering into the most expensive pleasures," — while all 
this was going on, madame the countess was putting off 
troublesome inquiries respecting her husband's where- 
about as best she could, saying one day that he was in 
Berry looking after a legacy, at another time that he 
was in Poictou, and finally that he was in England, 
where he had won £1000 on a horse-race.* Still she 
managed to enjoy herself after her own fashion. Car- 
dinal Prince de Eohan reluctantly admitted tliat she 
visited him at the episcopal palace at Saverne at the end 
of May, dressed in man's clothes, and moreover, that he 
liad sent one of the episcopal carriages to fetch her — 
from Strasbourg, we imagine.f One can fancy the high 
jinks between the countess and Cagliostro, and black- 
sheep Baron de Planta, and the Prince de Rohan, and 
" la petite comtesse,'' as Cagliostro's wife was called, over 
the cardinal's matchless Tokay on this notable occasion. 

* " Confrontation du Cardinal de Eohan avec le Pdre Loth." 
t " Premier Interrogatoire du Cardinal de Rohan." 


- XXI. 

1785. June 22— Aug. 6. 

the gathering of the storm. 

On the 22nd of June, Count de la Motte finds himself 
in Paris again, with a letter of credit for the sum of 
122,896 francs in his pocket-book on Perregaux the 
banker — the same shrewd Perregaux who, according to 
the popular story, after refusing the services of young 
Jacques Lafitte, engaged him the instant afterwards 
from observing him pick up and carefully preserve a 
common pin as in dejected mood he crossed the court- 
yard of the banker s hotel, and who subsequently took 
him into partnership and gave him his daughter in mar- 
riage, and so enabled him to found the great house 
of Lafitte and Co., of which he was so many years tie 
distinguished head. 

The count turns bis letter of credit into hard cash on 
the following day,* and then calls upon Kegnier with 
some of the stones he had failed to get rid of in Eng- 

* Deposition de Perregaux. 


land, commissions him to mount the best of them round 
the lid of a circular box, to set others for a small pair of 
drop earrings which the countess intends making a 
present of,* and sells him the remainder — namely, 
twenty brilliants, weighing in the aggregate forty-two 
carats, one weighing four and a quarter carats, and 
thirty-nine weighing fifty-nine and a half carats — for 
27,000 francs, discharging at the same time Regnier's . 
claim for setting the two diamond rings for himself and 
madame, and also an old debt due for either jewellery 
or plate.t 

The De la Mottes now make no secret of the affluence 
which, after years of watching and waiting, is theirs at 
last. Madame, they confidentially admit, is in high 
favour with the queen, who, they insinuate, showers gifts 
upon her confidant with no niggard hand. The coun- 
tess's ambition was to be lady of the manor of Fontette. 
She has the means of gratifying it now ; nevertheless, it 
is not to Fontette that she goes, but to Bar-sur-Aube, 
which, with its somewhat free and pleasant society, has 
greater charms for her. On retirement for a time to 
Bar-sur-Aube her heart is fixed. She and the count had 
been long looking forward to spend the present autumn 
in their new abode, which by the aid of the Parisian 
decorator, wlio for months past had been exercising 
his talents upon the principal apartments, was rapidly 

* See (tnte, p. 228. f Deposition de Kegnier. 


becoming a model of elegance and taste. One little 
thingj however, was troubling them at this moment and 
casting its shadow across their anticipated enjoyment — 
namely, the affair of the Necklace, the first instalment 
in respect of which would soon be falling due. Still the 
countess, having accomplished what she had, would 
surely find it no very difficult task to arrange a post- 
ponement which would leave her husband and herself 
at liberty to enjoy their autunm holiday in peace and 
quietude. It is with this view that the countess calls 
upon the cardinal, as we have already stated, while the 
count, looking upon the affair as good as settled, hies 
down to Bar-sur-Aube to await the arrival of several 
waggon-loads of furniture which were on their way from 
Paris. Among these we may be certain there were 
some handsome suites of the very latest fashion, ordered, 
we know, of Hericourt, Fournier, and Gtervais, the crack 
upholsterers of the period, at a cost of 50,000 francs. 
There was no lack of clocks too from Furet, of marble 
groups from Adams and Chevalier, nor of mirrora, and 
chandeliers, and table-glass, and Wedgwood ware, then 
getting into fashion in Paris, from Sikes.* A little 
automaton bird too, that flew about the room all alone, 
and for which madame had given 1500 francs,! would 
certainly not be forgotten. 

• * " Marie- Antoinette et la Proems du Collier," par E. Campardon. 
Paris, 1858, p. 98. 

f " Memoire pour le Cardinal dc Pohan," p. 49. 


It must have been at this particular juncture that the 
cardinal chanced to see some two or three letters actually 
written by Marie- Antoinette, and that, struck by the 
dissimilarity of the handwriting of these letters and 
those received from Madame de la Motte, he communi- 
cated his doubts upon the subject to tlie countess.* She, 
with her active brain and ever ready tongue, had of 
course a hundred reasons to prove to the credulous car- 
dinal that he was mistaken, and so set his mind at rest. 
Not so as regarded her own ; she felt none of that con- 
fidence with which she could so readily inspire her dupe. 
She feared the mine was on the point of being sprung, 
and that the explosion would take place before she could 
make good her retreat. To reassure alike the cardinal 
and the jewellers she goes with her casket of jewels, 
— which Eegnier tells her are worth 100,000 francs — 
to her notary, one Mainguet, with whom she pawns 
them for a loan of 35,000 francs, 30,000 of which slie 
takes to the Prince de Eohan to give to Bohmer and 
Bassenge. Then she packs off Eetaux de Villette post- 
haste to Bar-sur-Aube, and so much was she taken up 
with these urgent matters that she neither dines nor 
sups nor sleeps at home on that day.t 

One can imagine the consternation of the Count 
de la Motte as, while superintending the arrangement 
of the new furniture and chatting with tlie decorator 

* " Premier Tnterrogatoire du Cardinal de Kolian.** 
t " Memoire pour le Cardinal de Kohan," p. 72. 


respecting the extremely satisfactory effect of the tout 
ensemble of maclame's boudoir, he catches sight of Villette 
driving up to the house in hot haste, and looking far 
more grave than is the fellow's wont. Tlie count rushes 
down the steps to meet him — tliey turn aside for a few 
minutes' conversation, and after a hurried lunch, and 
some hasty instructions to the workpeople, the order is 
given to put fresh horses to the carriage, and the pair 
are rattling over the road to Paris. By dint of hand- 
some ^'pour hoires " to postillions, and considerable wear 
and tear of horseflesh, the hundred and forty miles 
that intervene between them and the Eue Neuve-Saint- 
Gilles are got over in less than the four-and-twenty 
hours. At noon on the following day (August 3) a 
council is held, at which it is decided that madame 
shall send a message to Bassenge, requesting him to 
favour her with a call. The jeweller, in the belief that 
the summons can only refer to the Necklace, takes the 
Hotel de Strasbourg in his way, sees the cardinal, speaks 
to him of his own and his partner's inquietude at the queen 
having taken no notice wliatever of the firm's letter of 
July 12, and informs him of the message he has received 
from Madame de la Motte, to whom he now hastens. 
Bassenge finds the countess alone, with no other fur- 
niture in the apartment beyond a bedstead and a couch, 
and everything about the house betokening a sudden 
*^ flitting." The jeweller simply thought he was dream- 
ing when, after the ordinary compliments had passed 


between them, madame, with the cabnest of counte- 
nances and the firmest of voices, said to him : " I have 
sent for you to let you know that you have been 
deceived — the word 'approuve' and the signature at- 
tached to the paper containing the conditions of sale of 
the Necklace are forgeries — the queen's handwriting 
has been counterfeited. As for the rest, the cardinal, 
you know, is very rich ; you had better look to him, 
and insist upon his rendering himself personally 

Bassenge, as soon as he recovered his self-possession, 
hurried home to communicate to his partner the as- 
tounding intelligence he had just received, but Bohmer, 
it will be remembered, was at Crespy with Madame 
Campan on this very day.j The jeweller therefore 
resolves to look in again on the cardinal, and ask an 
explanation from him. The Prince de Eohan, on being 
aj)prised of what the countess had said, shared in the 
fears of the jeweller, though he dared not avow as 
much. He hesitated for some time ere he made a 
reply ; then he strove to reassure Bassenge by aflSrming 
that he had in his own possession a written agi-eement 
of the queen's, and he bade the jeweller go home and 
make himself perfectly easy ; and home, and somewhat 
easier in his mind, Bassenge went. Great stress was 
laid at the trial on this mis-statement of the cardinal's, 

* D^podition de Bassenge. f See ante, p. 206. 


still we can very well understand it to have been no- 
thing more than an exaggeration of the fact that he 
was in possession of letters which he believed to be 
written by the queen, authorizing the purchase of the 
Necklace on her behalf. 

When Bohmer returns home from Crespy on the 
following day, the two partners compare notes, and 
decide that the queen ought to be seen without a 
moment's delay. To Versailles, therefore, Bohmer 
hastens, but, as we have already stated, is refused an 
audience by Marie-Antoinette. A day or two after- 
wards, however, he finds himseK summoned by courier 
to wait upon the queen, who has' by this time learnt 
from Madame Campan the result of her conversation at 
Crespy with the crown jerweller, and is anxious to hear 
the astounding recital from his own lips. Bohmer, dis- 
regarding all that Madame Campan has told him, and 
in the full belief that the cardinal holds the queen's 
written agreement for the purchase of the Necklace, 
proceeds to Versailles in all confidence, determined to 
be no longer trifled with even by royalty itself. On bis 
arrival he is ushered into the queen's private cabinet^ 
when Marie- Antoinette at once inquires of him : " By 
what fatality it is that she is still doomed to hear of his 
foolish pretensions about selling her an article wliich 
she had steadily refused for several years?" Bohmer, 
reassured by wluit the cardinal had told Bassenge, no 
longer felt any doubt as to the queen being really a 


party to the purchase of the Necklace, and replied, 
"that he was compelled, being unable to paciiy his 
creditors any longer." ''What are your creditors to 
me?" inquired the queen. Bohmer then regularly 
related to her all that, according to his deluded ima- 
gination, had passed between them through the inter- 
vention of the Cardinal de Kohan. She was equally 
thunderstruck, incensed, and surprised at everything 
she heard. In vain did she speak ; the jeweller, alike 
importunate and dangerous, repeated incessantly: 
"Madame, this is no time for feigning; condescend 
to confess that you have my Necklace, and order me 
some assistance, or else a bankruptcy will soon bring 
the whole to light."* 

Marie- Antoinette, driven almost frantic by this fla- 
grant imposture and the wanton manner in which her 
name had been abused and trifled with, immediately 
sent for the Abb6 de Vermond, " her private secretary, 
her confidant, and her counsellor ;"t and subsequently 

* " Memoirs of Marie-Antoinette," by Madame Campan, vol. ii. 
pp. 283-4. Madame Campan is the single authority for this reputed 
interview between Bohmer and the queen. Other accounts agree in 
stating that the queen invariably refused to see the crown jeweller, 
under the ])retence that his threats of suicide alarmed her. Still, as • 
Madame Campan was so intimately mixed up with the affair at this 
particular juncture, she could hardly be mistaken on so important a 
point as this interview. If it really did take place, Bohmer must 
have kept tlie cardinal in ignorance of it, for had he known of it h(? 
would hardly have counselled the jeweller to attempt to throw dust 
in the eyes of the acute De Breteuil. See next page. 

t Ibid. 

VOL. I. R 


for the Baron de Breteuil — the cardinal's two bitterest 
enemies. Delighted at the prospect they saw of crash- 
ing the grand almoner, not merely by effecting his 
utter ruin at court, but by disgracing him in the eyes 
of aU Europe, they never for a moment thought of the 
consequences of permitting the name of the second 
personage in the kingdom to be mixed up in a swin- 
dling transaction and associated with those of a pro- 
fligate ecclesiastic, a wholesale forger, a Palais Boyal 
courtesan, a sharper, and an abandoned woman and 

Hardly had Bohmer made his partner acquainted 
with what transpired at his interview with the qneen, 
ere another courier in the royal livery dashes up to 
the door of the jewellers' establishment — "Au Grand 
Balcon," in the Kue Vendome — ^this time with a letter 
from the Baron de Breteuil, minister of justice and of 
the king's household, and the Prince de Eohan's declared 
enemy, again requiring Bohmer's attendance at Ver- 
sailles. On the receipt of this new summons, Bohmer 
hurries off to the cardinal for instructions, finds his emi- 
nence by this time pretty well crazed with this same 
Necklace business. Nevertheless he enjoins the jeweller 
not to breathe a word about the queen, for should the 
minister discover that her majesty had purchased the 
detested jewel, he would certainly inform the king, and 
they would all be involved in one common disgrace. 
Should the Barou de Breteuil question him as to the 

bOhmer plays fast and loose. 243 

meaning of the letter which the firm had sent to the 
queen, he had better reply that it referred to some 
new set of diamonds which they desired to sell to her 
majesty. Primed with these instructions, Bohmer goes 
to his interview with the minister ; but whether he was 
as reticent as the cardinal bade him be on the subject of 
the sale of the Necklace we have our doubts. Bohmer's 
object was to get his money ; but then he dared not go 
in face of the instructions he received from the minister. 
He therefore played fast and loose with the cardinal, 
not daring to break with him for fear he should lose 
his 1,400,000 francs, but betraying him so fer as he 
thouglit he might safely venture to do to his acknow- 
ledged enemy. The result was that a few days after- 
wards, on the recommendation of the Baron de Breteuil, 
who assured the jewellers they should be paid for the 
Necklace, a memorial was drawn up and forwarded to 
the queen by the crown jewellers, wherein was set forth 
a complete history of the negotiations which had been 
entered into with the cardinal, and wliich had resulted 
in the sale to him of the Necklace, as they believed, 
on her majesty's account. 

At this point the arch intriguante seems to have lost 
her head, for on the morning of the 4th, the day after she 
had made her damaging admission to Bassenge respect- 
ing the signature to the contract, she sends her maid to 
the Hotel de Strasbourg to beg the cardinal to call upon 
her. He does so, when she receives him seemingly all 


in tears, and tells him that she is a victim to the ma- 
levolence of the courtiers of Versailles, who are jealous 
ot the favour shown her by the queen; that she is 
obliged to fly to avoid their attacks, and entreats of him 
to afford her an asylum until she can provide herself 
with some safe retreat. The stupid cardinal, not even 
yet convinced that he has been duped, or, if so, fearing 
to admit as much, hesitates at first, but eventually con- 
sents to receive her, her husband, and her maid at his 
hotel.* The countess afterwards pretended that it was 
the cardinal who sent for her and the count ; that he 
kept them almost prisoners, and used every argument 
to induce them to cross the frontier rate Germany with 
all speed, so as to be out of the way when the storm 
burst forth. She even went so far as to say that the 
count was obliged to threaten to use force ere he could 
get released.! 

Only one motive can be suggested for the countess 
taking refuge at the Palais-Cardinal. She knew, or she 
suspected, that the police were watching her house and 
tracking her footsteps, and she did not know how soon 
the outstretched hand of justice might be upraised to 
strike, and she thought from the cardinal's high position, 
and the power and influence of his friends and connec- 
tions, that it would not dare to violate the sanctity of 

* '* ^lemoire pour le Cardinal dc llolian," p. 74. 
t " Lilo of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 375, 
tt ficq.j and "Premier Interrogatoire de Madame de la Motte." 


the episcopal domicile. For two entire days the De 
la Mottes remained in close seclusion at the Hotel de 
Strasbourg, when finding the confinement irksome, or 
thinking possibly that the affair would be certain to 
be hushed up, or that the law if put in force would not 
trouble itself about a couple of fugitives hidden in some 
far-away country town in Champagne, they left the 
cardinals on the evening of the 5th of August for their 
own house in the Eue Neuve-Saint-Gilles. Without a 
moment's loss of time arrangements appear to have 
been made for sending the forger Villette out of the 
way. Madame, calling him aside, confides to him what 
he is already well aware of, namely, that her affairs are 
somewhat embarrassed, and that she and the count 
propose retiring to Bar-sur-Aube until the storm has 
blown over and the atmosphere is a trifle clearer. 
Placing 4000 francs in bank-notes in her faithful secre- 
tary's hand, ** Go you," said she, *' to Italy for a time ; " 
and then to console the lover, whom hard necessity 
forced her to abandon, she added, "I will soon recall 
you near me again." The docile Villette promised to 
do as he was bid. A cabriolet seems to Iiave been in 
waiting for him in the court-yard of the countess's house, 
and into it Villette got, and a little after two o'clock in 
tlie morning he was presumed to be on the road to exile.* 

* " Memoirc pour le Cardinal de Rohan," p. 83. Villette evi- 
dently lingered for some time on French soil, for his passport for 
Italy was not dated until August 20, two days after the countess's 


The following morning, while the count was giving 
some directions respecting the last van-load of fdmitnre, 
which was then being packed in the conrt-yard of the 
hotel, Bassenge looked in, and in answer to his inquiries 
after madame's health, was informed by the count that 
she had been at Versailles for the last three days 
pleading for the cardinal. De la Motte added that he 
had only returned from Bar-sur-Aube three days ago, 
when he heard about the Necklace business for the 
first time. ** If," remarked he, in a jocular way, '* the 
queen should ask you the meaning of the letter of 
thanks which I hear you have addressed to her, why 
not say it merely meant that the Necklace had always 
been at her disposition, and that it was only a re- 
newal of the offers of it which had been previously 

No sooner had the count seen the last van-load of 
furniture safely off than he went with Father Loth to 
Mainguet the notary, paid him his 35,000 francs, and 
took away the jewels which madame had deposited 
with him a few days previously.f These were necessary 
to the coming display which the De la Mottes were 
bent upon making at Bar-sur-Aube. Determined to 
lose no further time, the count and countess set out the 
same evening for their country retreat ; and it is said 
that at the moment the countess stepped into the 

* Dc[)osition do Bassenge. f deposition du Pere Loth. 


carriage she consoled the cardinal by promising to 
return the very instant he should have need of 

* " M^moire Historique des Litrigues de la Cour," etc par Rdtaux 
de Villette, p. 59. 



1785. August 8-17. 


The countess had informed Beugnot, who had called 
upon her a short time previously to know if she had 
any commands for Bar-sur-Aube, whither he was abont 
returning to spend his holidays, that it would not be 
until about the commencement of October that she 
would again have the pleasure of seeing him. " I was 
therefore very much surprised," observes he, "to see 
Madame de la Motte arrive at Bar-sur-Aube in the 
early part of August, bringing with her her entire estar 
blishment, husband included. Villette alone remained 
in Paris as a forlorn sentinel, and, what appeared 
most strange, every day there arrived waggons loaded 
with furniture — a far larger quantity in fact than the 
house would hold — and magnificent furniture too.** 
There were numerous handsome mirrors and looking- 
glasses with which the walls of the salon, already re- 
splendent with a profusion of gilding, were decorated ; 


the chairs and couches, covered with beautiful tapestry, 
were also gilt.* Furet's clocks, and Adams and Che- 
valier's marble groups and bronzes ornamented the 
mantelpieces, and scattered about the salon were 
some of those costly fancies with which the arts con- 
trive to tempt the extremest opulence, such as a pair 
of automatic canaries that sang a duet together, and 
another automaton bird, which flew about the room 
of itself. There were likewise two gold musical 
boxes — ^things which have become common enough 
since, but were still rare at that time ; clocks which by 
means of certain mechanical arrangements displayed 
different scenes every hour they struck. On seeing 
these things, one divined that they could only have 
been bought by people tired of their money and anxious 
for the first opportunity to fling it out of window. In 
the dining-room were two magnificent buffets on which 
were displayed a profusion of valuable porcelain and 
two complete services of silver plate."t The hangings 
of the countess's bed were of crimson velvet trimmed 
with gold lace and fringe and embroidered with 
gold and spangles, while the counterpane was worked 

* " Some of the De la Mottes' fine furniture may still be seen at 
Bar-sur-Aube, in the scUon of the son of a former postmaster of the 
place, who subsequently bought the house itself of the count. To- 
day, improvements in the town of Bar-sur-Aube have necessitated 
the partial destruction of the De la Motte abode, fragments of which 
exist iu no less than three separate streets." — Letter from the CurS of 
Bar-sur-Auhe to the author, 

" M^moires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. pp. 70, 71. 


all over with pearls* brought, it will be remem- 
bered, by the count from England, and for which Gray 
had charged him over two thousand two hundred 
pounds, and which, according to the countess, were 
reported in the neighbourhood to be of the value of 
one hundred and fifty thousand francs. "As a con- 
summation of imprudence," remarks Beugnot, " the JDe 
la Mottes exhibited a casket containing more than 
two hundred thousand francs worth of diamonds. ' The 
count himself being supplied with a far larger quantity 
than seemed proper for an honest man." 

" In the De la Mottes' stables were twelve splendid 
horses, and in their coach-house no fewer than five 
or six handsome carriages, made in England," says 
Beugnot, " with a care and intelligence which showed 
that expense was the last thing these people troubled 
themselves about." Among these vehicles was a light 
and beautiful cabriolet in the form of a balloon, and 
upwards of ten feet high. In this singular vehicle 
Count de la Motte used to drive about the neighbour- 
hood, stared at by the gaping peasants and towns- 
people, t The countess when pajdng visits of cere- 

* " Authentic Adventures of the Countess de la Motte," p. 119. 

t Ibid, p. 120. The author of this work states that he was at Bar- 
sur-Auhe at this particular period, and saw the count riding about in 
the balloon-shaped carriage above mentioned. Balloon^, it should 
be remeniberi'd, were then a recent invention, Montgolfier having 
made his first ascent in December, 1783, some twenty months 


mony rode in a carriage drawn by six horses with 
little silver bells jingling at their collars and foxes' 
brushes flopping at their ears. She was invariably 
preceded by a couple of outriders, and one day greatly 
astonished the Abbe of Clairvaux — who, though a little 
king in these parts, only sported four horses himself — 
by driving up to the abbey gateway in this unwonted 
state. The number of servants on the De la Motte 
establishment was considerable, and their liveries were 
as a matter of course extremely rich. Among them 
was one of those little negro pages called "Jokeis," 
then much in fashion, engaged for madame's special 
service. In short, the count and countess at this period 
of their career displayed in all their appointments a 
magnificence and a profusion more than rivalling that 
of the wealthiest families in France. 

Madame's superb embroidered robes and her valuable 
point lace were only in keeping with the splendour of 
her household display. As for her jewels, she no longer 
depended on a pair of diamond bracelets to attract at- 
tention, for had she not now the magnificent pair of 
girandole earrings for which Gray the jeweller had 
charged the count six hundred pounds sterling, and 
the diamond star-shaped brooch which had cost an- 
other four hundred pounds, and one of the hand- 
somest diamonds in the whole Necklace set as a ring, 
by Eegnier, besides other diamond rings innumerable ? 
The necklace, formed of " twenty-two of the very finest 


diamonds from the scollops," which G-ray had mounted 
in accordance with the count's instructions, was flashing 
at this moment in the jeweller's shop window, 13 New 
Bond Street, dazzling the eyes of Piccadilly and Bond 
Street loungers, and exciting the envy of high-bom 
English beauties ; for Gray, hard man as he was, would 
not part with the handsome jewel to the Capuchin McDer- 
mott — whom the count had commissioned to procure it, 
and who had made application for it to Gray on the 
count's behaK — until he had been paid the expense of 

" We used to think," remarks Beugnot, " that the 
Cardinal de Eohan paid for all this brilliant extrava- 
gance, and we admired the good use which his eminence 
made of the funds of the grand almonry. The first 
representation we had witnessed of the magnificence 
of the De la Motte household had astonished us ; at 
this fresh display we felt xmeasy and well nigh indigo 
nant. Neither husband nor wife showed the least 
sign of inquietude. Their dinners were excellent ; 
and fete followed upon fete. They endeavoured to 
attract the neighbourhood to their house and get 
invited out in return, and to a certain extent they 

Within about ten miles or so of Bar-sur-Aube is 
Brienne, famous for its military school, where the young 

* *' Mcmoircs du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 71. 


Buonaparte it will be remembered studied mathematics 
and the art of war; and where, in the neighbouring 
chateau, lived Louis Lomenie de Brienne, last Count 
of Brienne, brother of the Archbishop of Sens, prime 
minister of France just before the outbreak of the 
Kevolution, and who was himself war minister for a 
time under Louis XVI. The ends of both brothers 
were alike untimely. One, the archbishop, died from a 
midnight carouse in which he was forced to join by the 
Jacobin emissaries who came to carry him off from 
his palace at Sens to the guillotine ; the other by the 
guillotine itself; going thither in the same set of 
tumbrils as Madame Elisabeth, the king's sister. At 
the Chateau de Brienne — a splendid edifice built by 
the count with the large fortune he had received with 
his wife, the daughter of a rich fermier-general — as at 
almost every other chateau of any importance at this 
period, private theatricals appear to have been in vogue. 
" M. de la Motte one day mentioned to me," remarks 
Beugnot, " that he had received an invitation to one of 
these entertainments at the Chateau de Brienne, and 
would be pleased if I would accompany him and accept 
of a seat in his carriage. Being well known to M. de 
Brienne, I acceded to the count's request without hesi- 
tation, and on the appointed day we set forth in a 
gorgeous equipage drawn by four splendidly-caparisoned 
horses, and with three footmen behind us. Prior to our 
starting I felt strongly inclined to recede, as I foresaw 


that I should have to undergo my share of ridicule for 
this ostentatious display. On our arrival at the chateau 
we alighted to the great scandal of those who saw us 
arrive. Happily for us the preparations for the play 
absorbed almost everybody's attention, and among 
others that of the master and mistress of the house. 
We entered the salon so that we might be seen, and 
passed from thence into the salle de spectacle. I was 
seated by the side of M. de la Motte, and soon perceived 
that he was the object of malevolent glasses, which were 
passed from hand to hand with shruggings of shoulders 
and mocking smiles. He certainly furnished a good 
subject for them, for he was dressed in a most singular 
style, and, what was in the worst of taste, diamonds 
were displayed in every part of his toilette at a period 
when the greatest simplicity already reigned in male 

One can picture the count with one side of his three- 
cornered hat looped up with the magnificent diamond 
aigrette which he had bought of G-ray, and with the 
medallion set with diamonds for which he had given 
two hundred and thirty pounds attached to a ribbon 
round his neck ; with his diamond watch-chain, his va- 
rious diamond rings, and his diamond snuff-box, value 
one hundred and twenty pounds ; and with one or other 
of the very handsome steel swords which he had 
brought over with him from England s^^ingiug at his 


" The count wore a dress coat of sky-blue cloth, a 
white waistcoat embroidered all over, and breeches of 
canary -colour taffeta. Still this only indicated the 
somewhat faded elegant; but here is what completed the 
absurdity. Madame de la Motte had taken it into her 
head to have the left facing of her husband's coat em- 
broidered over with a fine bouquet of lilies and roses 
intermixed. Nothing of the kind had been worn by 
any one up to that time, and most certainly not since. 
Everybody was asking what it could possibly mean: 
there were some who professed to see in it a sort of 
parody upon the united escutcheons of monsieur and 
madame, one of which contained flev/rs-de-lis, the other 
roses. Stupidity and self-conceit could hardly have 
gone farther. 

" When the play was over we returned to the salon. 
The assembly was composed of the distinguished families 
of the neighbourhood and of men of letters from Paris 
— of the Abbe Morellet, La Harpe, Masson de Morvil- 
liers, &c. I saluted Madame de Brienne, who scarcely 
condescended to nod to me in return, and then turned her 
back upon me. My reception by the master of the house 
was reduced to a " Good evening, sir," uttered in a dry 
tone. One feels ill at ease in the midst of a numerous 
circle after having been coldly received by the host and 
hostess. I continued standing, not knowing wliither to 
bend my steps in the midst of this hostile camp, when my 
good star brought to the salon the Count de Dampierre, 


a great bore, who relieved me of my difficulty by at once 
seizing hold of me. He profited by the opportunity to 
speak to me of innovations of every kind which were 
already fermenting in his brain ; and under the circum- 
stances it was quite a treat to me to listen to him. In 
order that we might not be separated during supper, he 
dragged me at once to table, and seated me by his side, 
when he ofiered me in his own person the example of an 
individual capable of speaking with warmth and eating 
with avidity at one and the same moment. I was 
occasionally a trifle inattentive, owing to my desire to 
observe how my travelling-companion was faring ; but 
M. de Dampierre always brought me back to the sub- 
ject of his discourse. * Never mind him,' he would say, 
' he's only some poor devil of a swell at whose expense 
people have been amusing themselves for the last two 
hours. Do you know him ?' 

" ' Yes, a little.' 

" ' Well, what is he ? Is he one of us? Does he know 
where we are ?' 

" * Not the least in the world.' 

" ^ Well, then, let them do what they please with him ;' 
and M. de Dampierre forthwith resumed his disser- 

"I only knew from the tales told by some of the 
guests of the tricks which had been played upon M. de 
la jMotte at the supper-table. It seems that in spite 
of the splentlid rei)ast spread before his eyes he had 


been debarred from partaking of the slightest nou- 
rishment, and that he rose from the table as badly 
ballasted as Sancho Panza at the conclusion of the 
first feast served to him under his own government. 
This could only have been brought about by a concert 
of *good turns,' the success of which enraptured the 
originators who came to relate the affair to us. The 
Count de Dampierre inveighed against this interrup- 
tion : 

" * Ah ! well, well ! but leave us alone ; we have 
neither diamonds nor canary-colour breeches, nor bou- 
quets embroidered at our button-holes. There is your 
man cowering in a corner of the chimney ; go and laugh 
at his expense, since he is in the humour to submit to 
it, and permit us to talk sense !' 

" AftQT a time M. de la Motte grew bold, and came 
to me to propose that we should leave. I consented 
with all my heart ; but there still remained a dreg at 
the bottom of the cup for me to swallow. 

" When I went in all humility to salute M. de Brienne, 
and to ask him almost tremblingly if he had any com- 
mands to give me for Bar-sur-Aube, he signalled to me 
to advance, so that in getting clear of the hands of M. de 
Dampierre I fell into tliose of M. de Brienne, who was 
quite M. de Dampierre's equal in holding fast to a good 
listener. M. de Brienne had not been at table, and had 
had of course nothing to do with the practical jokes of 
which M. de la Motte had been the victim. Indeed he 

VOL. I. s 


had listened with suppressed anger to the account which 
had boon given liini of the tricks played off upon the 
count, still he did not approve of my having presented 
myseK at his house in such company. I excused 
myself as well as I could, assuring him M. de la Motte 
had informed mo that he was invited for that particular 
day. M. de Brienne jiroved to me that whether M. de 
la Motte was in^^ted or not, I did very wrong to accom- 
pany him. I agreed with him, and asked his pardon, as 
the shortest n\ ay of terminating the discussion, where- 
uix)n he immediately opened a conversation upon an- 
other subject. There were scarcely any affairs in the 
commune in which M. de Brienne did not take a lively 
interest, and he did me the honour to consult me upon 
many of them, consequently there were plenty of mate- 
rials for a lengthened conversation. 

" Poor 31. de la Motte remained at a distance, watching 
our gestures, and awaiting the moment when I should 
be at liberty. During all this time people passed £Uid 
repassed him with expressions of contempt or pity. I 
did not dare utter his name, though I had observed he had 
been waiting for me ftdly an hour. 1 risked a first salute 
to M. de Brienne, as if about to take my leave, but he 
paid no attention whatever to it, and continued speak- 
ing. A few minutes afterwards I made a new attempt 
to release myself, whereupon my host proposed to me 
to sleep at Brienne. As our discussion continued I 
could see that my travelling-companion was on live 


coals. At last, by a courageous effort, I succeeded in 
disengaging myself, and left with M. de la Motte. We 
stepped into his magnificent carriage, having behind us 
two footmen with lighted torches, and a negro covered 
from head to foot with silver lace. The windows of 
the salon looked out upon the court of honour of the 
chateau ; Madame de Brienne and every one present 
were at the windows to observe the magnificence of 
our departure, and saluted us by clapping their hands, 
laughing, and indulging in mocking remarks which 
distinctly reached our ears. The carriage only rolled 
on the faster." * 

A day or two afterwards Madame de la Motte pro- 
posed to Beugnot to accompany her on a visit slie was 
about to pay to the Duke de Penthievre, but Beugnot, 
not wishing to place himself in a ridiculous position a 
second time, very decidedly declined the honour. He 
however accepted the countess's offer to set him down 
at Clairvaux, where he had been invited, and which 
was on the road from Bar-sur-Aube to Chateau- Villain, 
find to call and fetch him on her return in the evening. 

" In accordance with this arrangement," says Beugnot, 
" we left Bar-sur-Aube at eight o'clock in the morning 
of the 17th of August, 1785, a day I shall never forget. 
Malame de la Motte having set me down at Clairvaux, 
as had been agreed, went on to Chateau- Villain, where 

* " M^moires du Comte Beugnot,** vol. L p. 71, et seq. 


she dined and met with a reception which astonished 
those who composed the Penthievre court. The duke 
himself reconducted the countess at her departure to 
the door of the scUon opening on to the grand staircase, 
an honour which he did not pay even to duchesses, but 
reserved exclusively for princesses of the blood-royal, so 
strongly were the lessons of Madame de Maintenon on 
the honours to be paid to illegitimacy impressed upon 
his mind." * 

* " M6moires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. pp. 76-77. 



1785. August 15-23. 

lettres-de-cachet in the gbil-de-b(eup — m the 
rue saint-claude — and at bar-sur-aube. 

At noon on the 15th of August, 1785, on the festival 
of the Assumption, and the fete-day of Marie-An- 
toinette, the Cardinal de Rohan, attired in his sacer- 
dotal robes, was waiting in the "Salle de TCEil-de- 
Boeuf " the arrival of the king and queen, before whom 
he was about to perform high mass in the chapel of the 
Chateau of Versailles. Conspicuous among the cardi- 
nal's vestments is his gorgeously-embroidered alb, worn 
by him only upon grand occasions, and valued at up- 
wards of one hundred thousand francs, and which has 
his arms and device, in the form of medallions, crown- 
ing the larger and more brilliant flowers of which the 
rich and elaborate design is composed.* The hand- 
some " Salle de rCEil-de-Boeuf," which takes its name 

* " Mdmoires de le Baronne d'Oberkirche," vol. i. p. 127. 


tViiiii tlK» two buirs-eye windows level with the ceiling, thnuiged, according to custom, with noblemen of 
rvury degree of rank, grand court ladies, great officers 
of State, soldiei-8 and dignitaries of the Church, all 
watching for the dooi-s communicating with the royal 
apartments to be tlirown open, and for the king 
and queen to make their appearance. As it was in 
the days of the "Grand Monarque" — ^as it was in 
Louis XVI.'s time — as it was on that eventful morning 
of Oetiiber 7, 1789, when the chateau was stormed and 
the teri»>r-strieken Marie- Antoinette fled across it for life, 
when the h)ud cry arooc of "Save the queen" — -so the 
"Salle de TCEil-de-Boouf " is now. Bound the ceiling, 
from which hang suspended three magnificent chan- 
deliers of rock-crystal, runs a handsome deep-gilt Meze 
of cupids, some with hunting-horns, and dogs engaged in 
the chase ; others either reaping or binding sheaves of 
corn, or snaring birds or playing at see-saw. At the 
sides of the doorway leading into the grand looking- 
glass gallery, where those not having the entree of the 
"ffiil-de-Bccuf" were accustomed to congregate to see 
the royal procession pass, are two equestrian portraits^ 
the one of Louis XIV. in the costume of a Boman 
warrior, wearing, however, his customary full-bottomed 
wig, with Fame crowning him with a wreath of laurel ; 
the other of the king's brother, the Duke d'Orldans. 
Faciuir the same doorway is an elaborate mythological 
picture representing the "Grand Monarque "surrounded 


by his family, all of whom are robed iu exceedingly 
scanty draperies, the wigs of the men being their prin- 
cipal article of attire, and all of whom have that un- 
pleasant leer in the eyes which the painters of the 
seventeenth century seemed to have considered most 
bewitching, if not becoming. 

Suddenly the doors are flung open, but, instead of 
the tall Suisse shouting out the customary announce- 
ment, ^'Messieurs, le BoiT the Cardinal Prince de 
Kohan is summoned to attend the king in his private 

On proceeding thither, the grand almoner found the 
king and queen together. Louis XVI., without any 
preliminary observations, thus abruptly addressed 
him : 

"I hear you have purchased some diamonds of 
Bohmer ?" 

" Yes, sire," replied the cardinal 

"Pray, what have you done with them?" inquired 
the king. 

" I thought they had been delivered to her majesty." 

" \\\\o commissioned you to make the purchase ?' 

" A lady called the Countess de la Motte-Valois, who 
lianded me a letter from the queen, and I thought 
I was performing my duty to her majesty when I under- 
took this negotiation." 

" How, sir," exclaimed the queen, ** could you believe 
that I should select you, to whom I have not spoken 


these oip:lit years, to negotiate anything for me, and 
especially tlirough the mediation of such a wonian — 
a woman, too, whom I do not even know T 

"I see plainly that I have been cruelly duped," 
replied the grand almoner, darting upon the queen as 
he said so a look of indignation and disdain.* " I will 
pay for the Necklace : my desire to be of service to 
your majesty blinded me. I suspected no trick in the 
affair, and I am sorry for it." 

The cardinal then took from his pocket-book a letter 
jMirporting to be written by the queen to Madame de la 
Motte, and intrusting her \vith the commission. This 
letter he handed to the king, who after looking at 
it held it towards the cardinal, saying : " This is neither 
^vritten nor signed by the queen. How could a prince 
of the house of Eohan, and a grand almoner of France, 
ever think that the queen would sign herself Mabie- 
Antoinette de France? Everybody knows that 
queens sign their baptismal names only." 

Louis XVI. then produced the copy of a letter sent 
by the cardinal to Bohmer, and inquired whether he 
had ever written such a letter. After glancing over it, 
the grand almoner replied that he had no recollection 
of having done so ; but when the king asked him what 
he would say if the original letter, signed by himself, 

* See Georgel, who attributed this movement of the cardinal's to 
his firm belief at the time that the queen had really employed 
Madame de la Motte as her intermediary in the Necklace affair. 


were sho^vll to hiin, the cardinal could not but confess 
that the letter was genuine. 

" *If this be the case,' observed the king, 'explain to 
me the whole of this enigma. I do not wish to believe 
you guilty ; I had rather you would justify your con- 
duct. Account, therefore, for these manoeuvres with 
Bohmer, these securities, and these notes.' 

" In reply to the king's remarks, the grand almoner, 
who was extremely confused, kept continually repeating : 
* I have been deceived, sire. I will pay for the Necklace. 
I ask pardon of your majesties.' Then turning pale, 
and leaning against the table, he said : * Sire, I am too 
much agitated to answer your majesty in a way ' 

" * Compose yourself,' interposed the king, *and retire 
into the adjoining closet. You will there find pens, 
ink, and paper; write down what you have to say 
to me.' 

" The grand almoner retired as directed, and returned 
in about a quarter of an hour with a written statement 
of a somewhat incoherent character. After receiving 
it, Louis XVI. commanded him to withdraw."* 

De Besenval says that at this moment the king 
warned the cardinal he was about to be arrested. " Ob, 

* *' Memoirs of Marie-Antoinette," by Madame Campan, vol. ii. 
pp. 13, 14, 15, 286-7. Madame Campan has extracted the foregoing 
narrative, nearly word for word, from a newspaper of the time — ^the 
Journal des Debats, See the Abbe' Soulavie's ** M^moires Historiques 
et Politiques du regne de Louis XVI.," vol. vi. p. 81, et seq.y where 
the same account will be found quoted. 


sire !" exclaimed the prince, " I shall always obey the 
orders of your majesty, but deign to spare me the shame 
of being arrested in my pontifical habit before the eyes 
of the entire court." " It is necessary it should be so," 
replied the king. The cardinal wished to insist, but 
the king abruptly quitted him.* On leaving the royal 
cabinet the grand almoner encountered his deadly 
enemy^ the Baron de Breteuil, who had been lying in 
wait for him, and who at once called out to a sub- 
lieutenant of his majesty's body-guard, " In the king's 
name, follow me! Arrest the Cardinal de Kohan!" 
The officer proceeded to take charge of his prisoner, 
who, precipitated as it. were in a moment from his high 
pinnacle of fortune, was conducted on foot in his rich 
pontifical vestments, guarded on all sides, and pressed 
upon by an amazed crowd of court idlers and hangers- 
on, to his hotel looking upon the north wing of the 
chateau. The distance he had to go was not great, 
thi'ough the long looking-glass gallery — every eye in 
the immense throng with which it was lined tamed 
inquisitively upon him — through a few apartments and 
down the marble staircase, and across the marble court 
and the broad " Cour Royale," with the noonday sun 
shedding its burning rays upon his head, and gilding 
as it were his gorgeous vestments; past the gaudy, 

* " IMemoircs du Baron de Besenval," vol. iii. p. 127. The baron 
adds that he heard the whole of this detail told to the queen, but 
nothing was said of the contents of the ^.vaper written by the carding], 


gilded, and over-decorated chapel in which he, Grand 
Almoner of France, was never, more to officiate with 
a king and queen and a brilliant conrt appearing 
to give ear to his ministrations ; thence through 
the iron gate leading into the Kue des Eeservoirs, 
where the Hotel de Kohan — a singularly plain-look- 
ing building, with rather a pretty garden approached 
from a balustraded terrace in the rear, and which may 
be easily identified at the present day as the resi- 
dence of the receiver-general of the district — was situ- 
ated.* So soon as the necessary preparations could 
be made, the cardinal, guarded like a common crimi- 
nal, was whisked off to Paris to the Hotel de Stras- 
bourg, from whence he was speedily transferred to the 

Ere, however, he quitted the palace of Versailles, 
" notwithstanding the escort that surrounded him, and 
favoured by the attendant crowd, the grand almoner 
stopped for a few moments, and stooping down with his 
face towards the wall, as if to fasten his buckle or his 
garter, snatched out his pencil and hastily wrote a few 
words on a scrap of paper placed under his hand in his 
square red cap. He rose again and proceeded. On 
entering his hotel he contrived to slip this paper unper- 
ceived into the hand of a confidential 'heyduc' who 
waited for him at the door of his apartment" The 

* It is Ko. 6 in the Rue des Reservoirs. Vide " Histoire Anec- 
dotique des Rues de Versailles," par J. A. Le Roi. 


" heyduc " posts off to Paris, and arrives at the Palais- 
Cardinal early in the afternoon. His horse falls dead 
in the stable, and he himself swoons in the apartment 
of the Abbe Georgel after exclaiming wildly, " All is 
lost ; the prince is arrested." The slip of paper which 
drops from his hand is caught up and read with eager- 
ness by the abbe, and in accordance with the instrac- 
tions contained in it, the scarlet portfolio which held 
all the cardinal's secret correspondence, including the 
letters — gilt-edged or bordered with vigneUes hleuea — 
penned by the phantom queen, and on which the Prince 
de Rohan set such store, is forthwith committed to the 

While the foregoing events were transpiring the 
Count and Countess de la Motte were receiviug and 
returning visits in tranquil security at Bar-sur-Aube, 
It was two days after the arrest of the cardinal that the 
countess set out on her visit to the Duke de Penthievre 
at Chateau- ViQain, and Beugnot was awaiting her 

* There are other versions of this incident : we have, however, 
preferred to follow the Abh^ Georgers. See "M^moires pour 
servir," etc., vol. ii. pp. 103-4. Madame Campan says that the 
cardinal borrowed the pencil which he used from the sub-lieutenant 
into whose custody he was given, and who, when reprimanded for 
having permitted the cardinal to write, excused himself by saying 
that the orders he received did not forbid his doing so ; and that^ 
moreover, being himself in great pecuniary diflBcul ties, he thought the 
unaccustomed summons, " In the king's name, follow me," addressed 
to him by the Baron de Bretcuil, concerned him personally, which 
for the moment so unnerved him that he hardly knew what he was 
doing. See " Madame Campan's Memoirs," vol. ii, ppw 15, 16, 284. 


arrival at Clairvaux in the evening. The abbe had 
pressed the young lawyer to pass three days there if the 
ensuing fete of Saint-Bernard would not frighten him, 
and had promised him as a reward that he should hear 
the famous Abbe Maury from Paris preach the saint's 
panegyric. "I agreed," says Beugnot, "with all my 
heart. The day of Saint-Bernard was a grand affiiir 
at Clairvaux. The poor who presented themselves at 
the door of the abbey received charity, and the hour- 
geoisie of Bar-sur-Aube and its environs were enter- 
tained at dinner in the refectory, at which the abbe 
presided. I desired to be present at this banquet to 
laugh at the abbe, who had spoken to me of this old 
custom as a piece of tomfoolery he was about to sup- 
press, and had mentioned with contempt the guests 
who would be present at it. 

" The Abbe of Clairvaux was above the middle height, 
and of a fine and graceful figure. When after his 
election he had the honour of being presented to the 
king at Versailles, the queen, struck with his handsome 
person and the dignity with which he wore the costume 
of his order, could not refrain exclaiming, 'What a 
handsome monk !' Dom Eocourt was polite with men 
and gallant with women, and with all this, or in spite of 
it, very stupid. I was never able," says Beugnot, " to 
make him comprehend when the revolution arrived 
that the age had done with him, his abbey, and his 
monks, who would have been only too happy to 


abandon him."* The Abbey of Clairvanx, founded in 
the year 1114, was one of the richest and most mag- 
nificent abbeys in France. Its annual revenue was be- 
tween three and four hundred thousand francs. Situated 
in a picturesque glen, the conventual buildings com- 
prised the abbe's residence, a handsome church, said not 
to have been inferior to Notre Dame de Paris, and where 
several early French kings and princes lay buried, 
with a treasury for its ornaments and relics, an infirmary, 
a refectory and dormitories : besides which there were a 
valuable library and beautiful gardens.! Lastly, one 
must not forget its gigantic wine-vat, which held up- 
wards of 200,000 gallons. To-day the abbey is a house 
of detention for criminals ; the site of its magnificent 
church— demolished during the first year of the Besto- 
ration — being now a prison-yard. The abb6 usually 
drove out with four horses to his carriage, and had an 
outrider to precede him. He caused himself to be ad- 
dressed as ** my lord " by his monks and dependents, 
and by all those numerous persons who had need of 
his assistance. He governed despotically numerouB 
convents of monks and nuns that were dependent on 
his abbey, and it is said that he took especial pleasure 
in visiting the nunneries subject to his sway.J 

We left Beugnot at Clairvaux waiting Madame de la 

* " Memoiros du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. p. 79. 

t " Essais nistoriques sur la villc de Bar-sur-Aube," par J. G. F. 

X " Memoires du Comte Beugnot," vol. i. pp. 79, 80. 


iNFotte's return. Soon after eight o'clock she made 
her appearance, when he at once acquainted her with 
the engagement he had entered into. She wished to 
share it and remain for the fete of Saint Bernard, but 
the abbe excused himself, explaining to her that the 
fete was altogether a religious one, and that the ladies 
who commonly inhabited Clairvaux fled from it on that 
day, abandoning it to the religion of Saint-Bernard and 
to their children. They returned, however, on the fol- 
lowing day, and the abbe, who was lost in reverence 
and al oration of Madame de la Motte, pressed her to 
augment their number. He was no doubt aware of 
the intimate connection which existed between the 
countess and the Cardinal de Eohan, and he treated 
her accordingly like a princess of the church. 

A large company was assembled at the abbey on 
this particular evening in anticipation of meeting the 
Abbe Maury, whose arrival from Paris was now mo- 
mentarily expected. The clock having struck nine 
without the looked-for guest making his appearance, 
the company sat down to the supper-table. Scarcely 
had they taken their seats, however, before the sound 
of carriage-wheels announced some new arrival. This 
proved to be the Abbe Maury, with " his Jesuistic eyes, 
his impassive brass face, image of all the cardinal sins," 
who, after being welcomed by his brother ecclesiastic, 
and introduced to the guests in the supper-room, with- 
out being allowed time to change his trayeUing-dress, 


took his seat at table, when, as a matter of course, he 
was at once assailed by the inquiry as to whether there 
was anything stirring in Paris — ^in fact, any news. 

"'What mean you? — ^any news? replied the Abbe 
Maury ; * why, where do you all come from ? There is 
a piece of news which none can understand, which has 
astonished and bewildered all Paris. The Cardinal de 
Eohan, Grand Almoner of France, was arrested last 
Tuesday, the festival of the Assumption, in his ponti- 
fical vestments, as he was leaving the king's cabinet. 
They talk of a Diamond Necklace which he was to 
have bought for the queen, but which he did not buy 
at all. Is it not inconceivable that for such a bauble 
as this a grand almoner of France should have been 
arrested in his pontifical vestments — do you under* 
stand, in his pontifical vestments ? — and on leaving the 
king's cabinet 7 

" As soon as this intelligence reached my ear," says 
Count Beugnot, whose narrative we are quoting, "I 
glanced at Madame de la Motte, whose napkin had Mien 
from her hand, and whose pale and rigid £Eice seemed 
as it were immovably fixed above her plate. After the 
first shock was over she made an effort and rushed out 
of the room, followed by one of the chief attendants. 
In the course of a few minutes I left the table and 
joined her. The horses were already put to her 
carriage, so we at once set forth." 

** ' I Lave perhaps done wrong in leaving so suddenlv, 


above all in the presence of the Abbe Maury/ remarked 
Madame de la Motte. ' Not at all/ replied I ; ' your 
relations with the cardinal are known, and almost 
avowed. He may have to forfeit his life perhaps ; 
your plan is to run away in advance of couriers, letters, 
or news. You would have done wrong in losing time 
by supping at Clairvaux — but can you explain this 
arrest to yourself?' *No, — at least only through some 
trick of Cagliostro's : the cardinal is infatuated with 
him : it is not my fault, I have warned him a hundred 
times.' * So much the better,' remarked I ; * but what 
is this story about a Necklace which the cardinal has 
been buying for the queen ? How is it that a cardinal 
is charged with such a purchase ? and how comes it 
about that the queen should choose for such a commis- 
sion Prince Louis, whom she openly detests?' *I 
repeat to you, it is all Cagliostro.' *But you have 
received this • charlatan at your house. Are you not 
compromised in any way with him ?' * Absolutely not 
in the least, and I am perfectly tranquil ; I did very 
wrong to leave the supper-table.' * It was not wrong. 
If you are tranquil on your own account, you ought not 
to be so on account of an unfortunate friend.' ' Ah ! 
bah ! you do not know him ; only see him in a diffi- 
culty ; he is capable of abusing a hundred persons, of 
saying a hundred foolish things to get himself put of 
it.' ' Madame de la Motte,' replied I, * you have just 
said more than I wished to hear ; I have a last service 

VOL. I. T 


to projioso to you ; it is now ten o'clock at night, we 
are approa(*liing Bayet. I am going to leave you there 
in care of a friend for whom you know I can answer. 
I will return with your carriage to Barnsur-Aube, and 
will warn M. de la Motte, who in an hour's time can 
come and fetch you in a post-chaise drawn by your 
best pair of horses. He will take charge of your most 
valuable efifects, and you will together take, this very 
night, the road to Chalons, since that to Troyes would 
not be safe for you. Do not go to Boulogne, Calais, 
or Dieppe, at which places instructions perhaps have 
been already given to stop you ; between these ports 
there are twenty places where for ten louis they will 
land you in England.' * Sir,' replied Madame de la 
Jlotte, * you are wearying me ; I have allowed you to 
go on to the end because I was thinking of something 
else. Is it necessary to repeat to you ten times running 
that I have nothing to do with this afifair ? I repeat 
it, I am very sorry at having left the table, as though 
I were an accomplice in your cardinal's fooleries.' 
' Sladame,' observed I, ' let us say no more on the 
subject. Still I should like to add once more — ^after 
your avowal — that you will repent not having fol- 
lowed my advice. May heaven grant in this case 
tliat your repentance may not be more poignant than 

" We drove along in silence for half an hour. As we 
entered the town I entreated her to at least burn any 


papers which might compromise her or the cardinal. 
' It is,' said I, ' a measure dictated by honour on the 
one side and by prudence on the other.' She con- 
sented : I offered to assist her, and as she did not 
refuse, on leaving the carriage I accompanied her to 
her room. Her husband, who had left home early in 
the morning to join a hunting party, had not yet re- 
turned. We opened a large chest of sandal-wood filled 
with papers of all colours and dimensions. Being ner- 
vously anxious to make quick work of the matter, I 
inquired if there were amongst them any bills of ex- 
change, bonds, bank-notes, or drafts, and on receiving 
an answer in the negative I proposed to throw the 
entire heap into the fire. She insisted on at least a 
cursory examination being made of them. "We pro- 
ceeded with it, very slowly on her part, very precipi- 
tately on mine. It was whilst casting furtive glances 
upon some of the hundreds of letters from the Cardinal 
de Rohan, that I saw with pity the ravages which the 
delirium of love, aided by. that of ambition, had wrought 
in the mind of this unhappy man. It is fortunate for 
the cardinal's memory that these letters were destroyed, 
but it is a loss for the history of human passions. 
What must have been the state of society when a 
prince of the church did not hesitate to write, to sign, 
and to address to a woman letters which in our days a 
man who respects himself the least in the world might 
commence reading, but would certainly never finish ? 


"Among these motley papers there were invoices, 
offers of estates for sale, prospectuses and advertise- 
ments of new inventions, &c. Some of the letters were 
from Bohmer and Bassenge, and made mention of the 
Necklace, spoke of terms expired, acknowledged the 
receipt of certain sums, and asked for larger ones. I 
consulted Madame de la Motte as to what should be 
done with them. Finding lier hesitate, I took the 
shortest course, and threw them all into the fire. The 
affair occupied a considerable time. When it was over 
I took my leave of Madame de la Motte, urging her to 
depart more strongly than ever. She only answered 
me by promising to go to bed immediately. I then 
quitted her apartments, the atmosphere of which was 
poisoned by the odour arising from burning paper and 
wax impregnated with twenty different perfumes. It 
was three o'clock in the morning ; at four o'clock she 
was arrested, and at half-past four was on her way to the 
Bastille. The examination which I had made of her 
papers, although a superficial one, had settled my 
doubts. I had observed so much extravagance in the 
hitters of the cardinal, that I believed both he and the 
countess lost, and the one through the other."* 

I'ho countess was sound asleep when the officers of 
justice arrived. An inspector of police drew aside the 
bed curtains, and arousing her, showed her the Idtre-de- 

* "Memuircs du Corate BoiiLrnot," vol. i. p. 80, ct seq. 


cachet for her arrest.* . From this moment until her 
departure from Bar-sur-Aube the countess was closely 
guarded by exempts and cavalry of the marshalsea, while 
other exempts compelled her husband, who had returned 
home in the meantime, to accompany them while they 
made a strict search throughout the house, "t 

" M. de la Motte," observes Beugnot, " was very little 
affected at the arrest of his wife. He had been hunting 
the day before, and contemplated devoting several more 
days to this amusement He called on me at six 
o'clock in the morning, and told me in a quiet, confi- 
dential sort of way, of the countess's arrest. He as- 
sumed a calmness in my presence that surprised me. 
' Madame,' said he, ' will only be away for three or four 
days at the utmost. She is going to give the minister 
some explanations which he requires of her. I reckon 
that she will return on Wednesday or Thursday, when we 
will go and meet her, and bring her home in triumph.' 
* Sir,' I replied to him, ' you are I dare say unaware that 
last night I advised your wife to start at once for Eng- 
land, and by the quickest route. Had she followed my 
counsel, she would not be as she now is, on the high 
road to the Bastille. I now advise you to follow the 
course I suggested to her, which will be much safer for 
you than losing precious time and deceiving yourself by 
vain illusions.' The count shrugged his shoulders and 

* " Anecdotes du regne de Louis XVI.," vol. i. p. 385. 
t " Premier Interrogatoire de Madame de la Motte." 


left me, humming a tune. On the same day he took 
his place in the diligence, and gained England without 
delay. It was on the 18th of August that he left. 
Four days afterwards the police came to arrest him,"* 
but found their bird had floAvn. 

Neither the forger Villette nor the counterfeit queen 
D'Oliva were objects of suspicion even until several 
weeks had elapsed ; but eight days after the arrest of 
the cardinal, Count Cagliostro and his wife were ar- 
rested and sent to join the grand almoner and the 
Countess de la ilotte in the Bastille. In a memorial 
prepared by Cagliostro, wherein he puts forward a claim 
for damages on account of the losses sustained by hiTn 
in consequence of this arrest, he says : " On August 23, 
1785, the Commissary Chenon came to my house, 
attended by a bailiff and eight police-officers. He told 
me that he had orders to escort me to the lieutenant of 
police. He asked me for my keys, and obliged me to 
open my escritoire, which contained various medicines, 
amongst others six bottles of precious balsam. The 
bailiff in my presence seized upon the articles he chose 
to take, and particularly four bottles of the balsam. 
The sbirri that accompanied him followed their chiefs 
exam})le, and the pillage began." 

The count tlien proceeds to estimate the amount of 
this pillage item by item, and ends by bringing it up to 

* " Memoires du Comtc Beiignot," vol. i. pp. 85, 86. 


the considerable sum of 100,000 francs (£4000 sterling). 
Amongst these items he cites a green pocket-book con- 
taining forty-seven bank notes of 1000 francs each, 
besides which he asserts there were gold and silver 
coin — double-louis, sequins, and Spanish quadruples — 
plate, jewels, diamonds, &c., taken away.* 

The cardinal's equerry and particular confidant, the 
Baron de Planta — a man of shady character, who had 
held a commission in a Swiss regiment in France, had 
been broke for some misconduct, and had been for years 
under a cloud at the time he was picked up by the 
Prince de Kohan during his Vienna embassy — was like- 
wise arrested, but had the luck to get released after 
undergoing a brief examination.t 

* " Memoire pour le Comte de Cagliostro centre Maitre Chesnon 
fils et le Sieur de Launay," p. 4, et seq, 

t "M^moires pour servir," etc., par I'Abbd Georgel, vol. ii. 
pp. 49, 108. 



1785. Aug. 19— Sept. 13. 



As we have already mentioned, the Cardinal de Bohan 
immediately after his arrest was conducted, closely 
guarded, to his hotel at Versailles. In the afternoon of 
the same day he was removed to Paris, to the Palais- 
Cardinal, where he remained during the night; the 
officer commanding the escort of royal body-guards, 
having been solemnly cautioned to that efifect, slept in 
the same apartment as his prisoner, whom he never 
trusted out of his sight for a single instant. 

The day following the Marquis de Launay, governor 
of the Bastille, came to receive the grand almoner into 
his custody, and to transfer him to the iron grip of that 
mysterious state prison which rarely rendered up its 
victims until they were snatched away by the icy hand 
of death. The cardinal wished to go thither on foot 
under cover of the night, so as to be free from obser^ 


vation. This favour was granted him, but, what is far 
more remarkable, he was allowed to take with him a 
couple of valets de chamhre and a secretary, and was 
informed that he would be permitted to see his friends 
at stated periods in the hall of this gloomy fortress.* 

The Countess de la Motte was aiTested it will be 
remembered at four o'clock on the morning of the 
18th of August, and was at once hurried ofif to Paris, 
distant about one hundred and forty miles from Bar- 
sur-Aube, " entirely ignorant," she remarks, ** whither I 
was intended to be conveyed, and so little anticipating 
the event that I was dozing in the carriage. In the 
course of our journey the voiture was stopped, and 
questions asked by some person without, to whom the 
person within said: 'Don't you know this voitv/re? 

* Oh yes,' replied the other. * Don't stop us then ; we 
have nothing but a state prisoner;' upon which the 
voiture proceeded. Hearing this conversation I awoke ; 
the termination of it roused all my faculties. ' What 
do you say ? exclaimed I in a tone of extreme agitation. 
' A state prisoner I alas ! then am I a state prisoner ?' 

* Oh, no, madame, no such thing;' and these people 
swore that I was not one. But there is some excuse 
for them ; they belonged to the police, and perjury and 

* M. Feuillet do Conches has, among his curious collection of 
autographs relating to the affair of the Diamond Necklace, a series 
of reports from the Marquis de Launay to the Baron de Breteuil, which 
give, day by day, a list of the persons who visited the cardinal during 
his confinement in the Bastille. 


bearing false witness is no small part of their employ- 
ment. Yet they used such kind expressions that^ know- 
ing my innocence, I flattered myself I was not deceived. 
One of them said to me : ' Madame, I wish we were 
arrived at my house, where I could accommodate you 
with a bath and a bed ; for as it is now so very early 
I'm afraid we shall not be able to get an interview with 
the Baron de Breteuil, who has given me orders if we 
arrived too early to conduct you to my house, and to 
wait upon him about eleven; therefore be composed 
and try to sleep a little.' All this time I remained 
upon my seat; but soon after, they desired me to 
conceal myself in the bottom of the voitv/re; this was 
when we arrived at the Porte St. Antoine, where they 
endeavoured as much as possible to place themselves in 
such positions before me that I might neither be seen 
by any one nor observe the turning of the Bastille. 
Finding myself rather warm, ' Let me see,' said I ; and 
looking out I discovered the BastiUe. * How T exclaimed 
I, with agitated surprise ; * is it to the Bastille then 
that I am going ? Oh ! you are all impostors T They 
endeavoured to pacify me, and begged me not to make 
a disturbance; told me that they were not their own 
masters ; that they had received their orders, but that 
they were absolutely ignorant of the motive for which I 
was taken to the Bastille, and that they were persuaded 
in a very few days I should be liberated. 

" By this time we arrived at the first bridge leading 


to the governor's house. The postillion knocked, and 
many invalides came out. The post-chaise belonging to 
the police drove up to the governor's door, who came 
out himself in a robe de chambre to the carriage to give 
me his hand, begging me at the same time to excuse 
his deshabille. He then conducted me into a large hall* 
Soon afterwards, the king's lieutenant arrived with a 
large book, wherein he entered the date of my arrival, 
and afterwards presented it to me to sign my name, 
which request I complied with. During this ceremony^ 
which only occupied a few minutes, the governor was 
in the court with the exempts, who were giving him 
an account of every circumstance which occurred 
in the execution of their orders. This over, the 
governor returned, and asked me if I would take any 
refreshment, adding, ^ We shall take great care of you, 
madame.' I then asked him into which apartment I 
should go to receive the Baron de Breteuil, remarking 
at the same time that I hoped he would come at eleven, 
as the exempts had informed me. ' Oh, there is not the 
least doubt of it, madame,' replied the governor. He 
then called Saint-Jean, the turnkey, to whom he gave 
my papers, to place them, as I have since heard, in the 
archives; after which the governor desired the king's 
lieutenant to conduct me to my apartment. Some 
little conversation passed relative to the place of my 
destination, of which the lieutenant seemed uncertain. 
^ Oh,' said the governor, * La Comtee is the best ; it is 


very light.' He then put me in charge of the king's 
lieutenant, whose arm I took, persuaded that I should 
be shown into some other apartment, and for a fiar 
different purpose. As I went along I saw some soldiers 
(invdlides) enveloped in blue cloaks, with large hoods 
over their heads, and long bands hanging down. As I 
passed them I was not a little surprised to see them 
turn their backs towards me, it being the rule when any 
prisoner arrives for them to turn themselves round lest 
they should take too much notice. I began to laugh 
with the lieutenant at the novelty of this, and particu* 
larly at these grotesque figures in their masquerada . . 

" We passed on tiU we arrived at the court, the stair- 
case of which led to the tower of La Comtee, After 
ascending this we arrived at the apartment destined for 
my reception, all the gates of which were very large^ 
and moreover open. St. Jean, who was to be my 
turnkey, attended me thither, 

" Struck with such a dismal change of situation, so 
very different from wliat I had ever been accustomed to, 
I could not help expressing my dissatisfaction to the 
lieutenant. *K this is the place,' said I, * which the 
governor pleases to call my apartment, to be sure I am 
greatly obliged to him.' I then went to look at the 
bed, which was indeed a wretched one ; told him tl^t 
it would be impossible for me to sleep in so miserable a 
bed as that, and demanded if he could not accommodate 
me with one as good as the caidinal's? He replied. 


very politely that he really did not comprehend my 
meaning. . . . 

" My disapprobation of the bed, however, was attended 
with favourable results, for the turnkey substituted for 
the one which I had great reason to complain of an 
excellent feather bed with fine sheets and curtains. 
Thus accommodated, and extremely fatigued, I attempted 
to get some rest ; but I was scarce in bed when the 
lieutenant, with my own and another turnkey, arrived. 
The two turnkeys examined my clothes and my pockets, 
out of which they took all the contents, consisting of 
several little articles, particularly a gold Mui set with 
pearls, another of tortoiseshell, a small ivory box orna- 
mented with gold, having on its lid a miniature with a 
gold rim, containing a small mirror and some rouge, an 
English pocket-knife, a knife with a tortoiseshell handle 
and gold blade, my purse, containing eighteen louis and 
about nineteen livres, and a gold repeating watch with 
a diamond chain. 

" Indignant at such humiliating treatment, which I 
could not patiently endure, I remonstrated with some 
asperity, and threatened to inform the Baron de Bre- 
teuil, whom I was simple enough to believe I should 
see. They were however regardless of my threats, and 
having executed their orders, departed through those 
dreadful doors which with their horrid bolts were closed 
upon me, and the sound pierced my very soul. . . . 

" About eight o'clock the turnkey came to my door. 


I spoke to him, but he paid no attention to me, and 
departed without saying a word. I rose to examine my 
dismal habitation, and traversed the room in every 
direction backwards and forwards. I opened the window 
to see if I could discover anybody, or make myself suflS- 
ciently conspicuous for any one to see me. I climbed 
upon the sill, and held my face close to the bars, but I 
could discover nothing ; as for people, it was impossible 
to distinguish them."* 

At noon tlie lieutenant of the Bastille came to fetch 
the countess as she thought to an interview with the 
Baron de Breteuil, instead of which she was conducted 
into the presence of the lieutenant of poh'ce and the 
Commissary Chenon, who commenced examining her re- 
specting the Diamond Necklace, and ended by accusing 
her of having first obtained possession of and afterwards 
absconding to a foreign country with the missing jewel. 
Madame de la Motte, perfectly unabashed, says that she 
laughed outright in the commissary's face at what she 
styles the " ridiculous absurdity" of such an accusation. 
Her examination was continued day by day, and when 
completed, the commissar}'-, as the countess artfully 
states, " gabbled over something which she scarce 
understood," but which she nevertheless signed. ** It 
was this cunning dissembler," she remarks, " who made 
me sign those odious things which I was supposed to 

* " Life of the Countess de la ]\Iotte, by herself," voL i. p. 389, 

ct S'.".'. 


have said myself, and which were so detestable that 
when they were read by his majesty he spat upon them, 
saying, *Fie upon the filthy creature !'"* 

The countess, who in early life was glad to feed upon 
broken victuals passed through a trap-hole in the mise- 
rable^ hovel that sheltered the Saint-Remi family at 
Fontette, appears not to have entirely approved of the 
cuisine of the Bastille. Wliat more particularly an- 
noyed her, however, was that she, who had been latterly 
accustomed to gold and silver plate, should now be 
expected to dine off vulgar pewter. According to her 
own account, she preferred enduring the pangs of hun- 
ger to submitting to such an indignity, and sent the 
dishes away untouched. The turnkey, she tells us, 
somewhat surprised at this proceeding, " said in a rude 
manner, 'So then you don't choose to eat, don't you?' 
' No,' rei)lied I, * I don't choose to eat, and I desire to 
know if you serve the cardinal off pewter ? Inform the 
govenior that the Valois are quite as nice as and en- 
titled to equal respect with the Rohans.' The turnkey 
was astounded. He looked at me respectfully, and 
mildly answered that he was ignorant who I was ; then 
begging my pardon he departed, and returned shortly 
afterwards with a better dinner served in beautiful dishes 
with silver covers." t 

Poor Madame de la Tour, Count de la Motto's sister, 

* " Life of the Countess de la Motte, by herself," vol. i. p. 408. 
t Ibid. vol. i. p. 416. 


having applied to the Marquis de Launay for permission 
to visit the countess in the Bastille, was arrested by two 
eoGempts on leaving the governor's house, and forthwith 
conducted to a cell in the gloomy old fortress, where she 
was kept confined for a period of six months, in spite of the 
efforts of her husband and family to procure her release. 
This was paying rather a heavy penalty for her feelings 
of sympathy towards an incriminated sister-in-law. 

Before the countess had been immured in the BastiQe 
a fortnight, we find her attempting a rambling excolpar 
tion of herself in a document which bears no address, 
but was no doubt intended to produce an impression 
on the Baron de Breteuil, and which she describes as 
"Explanatory reflections on the accusations made by 
Monseigneur le Cardinal de Rohan." 

" Does Monseigneur le Cardinal de Bohan believe me 
ass enough not to have disappeared immediately if I 
had desired to retain the Necklace under some pretext, 
as he accuses me of doing ? 

" Does Monseigneur le Cardinal believe that I caused 
the Necklace to be sold here under the eyes both of the 
vendor and of himself, and that I should have been 
able, had I been guilty, to have so far deluded them as 
to remain at Paris so tranquilly as I did, knowing all 
the wliile the date of payment ? Should I not ratiier 
have taken a safe departure before the moment of pay- 
ment arrived ? Monseigneur le Cardinal de Eohan was 
at Saveme for six weeks. Could I not have profited by 


his absence to join my husband in England with my 
whole household, and have remained there ? 

*' Instead of which my husband was there by his 
orders, and returned as agreed upon with Monseigneur 
le Cardinal. Would it have been possible, with me 
living almost at his door, for him not to have given me 
something during four years, or at least to have taken 
care of me and mine, since all I had was my pension of 
800 livres? The expenses of my house were always 
heavy enough to make it requisite for the cardinal to 
give me large sums to keep it up ; and at this time I 
solicited more than ever both at Versailles and at Paris. 
Every day I required voiiures de remise, which were 
very dear ; I had, too, a house at Versailles to reside in 
when there. How, moreover, let me ask, should I have 
done the bidding of a sovereign without anticipating 
great returns from it, since sooner or later this intimacy 
would certainly have been discovered? How could I 
have exercised so little precaution, I say, as to remain in 
Paris, where, if guilty, I should have had to have taken 
the utmost care to appear more at my ease than under 
ordinary circumstances, fearful of being suspected by 
Monseigneur le Cardinal, whose people, and especially 
]\I. le Baron de Planta (whom he also brought as a 
witness against me), came continually to my house ? 

" Will Monseigneur le Cardinal dare to deny all the 
facts which I have advanced in my examination, and 
which will at least convince him that I have been forced 

VOL. I. u 


to this, and that it has only been in self-defence ? But he 
accuses me wrongfully. I must teU the truth to prove 
my innocence, and to prove that he was not in a position 
to use me as a servant, as Monseigneur le Cardinal pre- 
tends, in an affair of such importance, since it concerned 
the person of the queen. Moreover, I do not know any 
one who is attached to her. 

" I have the honour to be, with submission, 


" At the Bastille this Monday, 29th August, 1785."* 

Another letter is extant, bearing date Sept. 13, 1785, 
evidently written by the countess during her confine- 
ment in the Bastille, though it has no signature to it, 
and wliicb, couched in terms of extreme familiarity, is 
addressed to the Duke de Guines, a very grand gentle- 
man of the court, and, what is more, one of the queen's 
most intimate friends. In this letter, in the midst of 
the most absurd and nonsensical details, the coontess 
introduces the names of her sister and of Cagliostro and 
his wife, on the two last of whom she seeks to turn the 
accusation directed against herself.! The duke, who 
pretended not to understand the drift of the letter, sent 
it to the Baron de Breteuil. 

• Autograph letter of Madame de la Motte's, in the Imperial 
t ATionymous autograph letter of Madame de la Motte's, in the 

coUoctiou of M. Feuiilct de Conches. 

marie-antoinette's numerous enemies. 291 



It is impossible to conceive the sensation produced 
throughout France, and indeed throughout Europe 
generally, by these arrests and the extravagant rumours 
to which they gave rise. Marie-Antoinette in various 
ways had unfoi-tunately made numerous enemies — 
through her efforts, for instance, to get the Duke de 
Choiseul appointed prime minister; through her too 
decided partiality for particular favourites, for whom she 
secured both places and pensions ; and through what was 
affectedly styled her want of prudence — ^in other words, 
her open disregard of the rigid formalities of French 
court etiquette. Arrayed against her were many of 
the oldest families in France, each of whom cherished 
some particular grievance of its own. The consequence 
was, there were many hostile interests at work intent 
upon destroying her reputation and bringing about her 
ruin if need be, even at the expense of the monarchy 
itself, SO' that the great fraud of the Diamond Necklace 


was altogether regarded in the light of a political eyent, 
and no time was lost by the difl'erent inimical factions 
ill twisting it to serve their own purposes, without the 
slightest regard being paid by any one of tliem to the 
real character of the act itselfc 

We will here inteiTiipt the course of our narrative to 
examine at some length into the origin of this wide- 
spread animosity against the queen, and to trace the 
causes of its rapid extension through all classes of 
French society. To do this it will be necessary for us 
to go back to the very outset of her career. 

When 3Iarie- Antoinette, then a young girl of fifteen, 
first set foot on French soil, nothing coidd exceed the 
entliusiasm with which she was welcomed. Her progress 
fioiu Strasbourg to Versailles was one long ovation. At 
Versailles, save the dauphin's old maiden aunts, who 
made themselves sufTicieutly disagreeable, and the king's 
mistress, Mailame Dubarry, who could not tolerate this 
fair and pure young spirit, every one was more or less 
charmed with her. The old king, worn out by excesses, 
and weary of the deceptive flattery which lie daily had 
to listen to, was captivated, not merely by her personal 
gi'aces, but by her frank and lively nature, her open un- 
affected ways. The women may have secretly envied 
her, but the men could not help adoring her. She far 
excelled the young female members of the royal family 
in beauty. At the time of her marriage her form 
was not fully developed : her stature was short-, and her 


figure altogether small, though perfectly proportioned ; 
her arm was finely rounded and of a dazzling whiteness, 
her hand plump, her fingers tapering, her nails trans- 
parent and rose-coloured, her foot charming. When 
she grew taller and stouter the foot and hand remained 
perfect, her figure only became a little inelegant, and 
her chest a trifle too broad. Her face formed a rather 
long oval ; her complexion, which was really dazzling, 
displayed the most tender shades of colour, from pearly 
white to delicate rose tint ; her eyes were blue, soft, and 
animated, and shaded by long, full lashes ; her nose was 
aquiline, and slightly tapered at the end ; her mouth 
was small and delicate and well arched, her lower lip 
prominent, after the Austrian type ; her neck was slen- 
der and a trifle long, but well set ; her forehead was 
convex, and furnished with too little of her beautiful 
chesnut-colour hair. The coiffure of the empire would 
have accomplished marvels for her, for the hair turned 
down over her forehead would have given to her face a 
regular beauty.* 

Though the young dauphiness was addicted to reverie, 
and displayed a fondness for retirement in the society 
of a few chosen friends, she was far from being of a 
reserved disposition ; indeed, she was a good deal given 
to gaiety of that light, playful, almost pert character 
which imparts movement and life to all around. She 

* M. F. Barrifere. 


forced every one to laugh with her. She cared nothing 
for the restraints imposed by the barriers of etiquette. 
If it did not please her to walk in stately fashion^ she 
would run and skip about, regardless of her train or her 
ladies of honour. In winter-time she would scamper 
over the slippery ground, dragging after her the youngest 
lady of her court, whose duty it was to hold up her train, 
and delighted while glancing behind at the score of 
racing trains which etiquette required should follow in 
procession. In the old king's days she was known to 
have even laughed out loud in the royal box at Preville's 
funny face, to the great scandal of those who only deigned 
to smile.* 

At the very first court she held after she became 
queen, provoked by some pleasantries on the part of one 
of her ladies, and the ridiculous figures cut by certain 
ancient court dames who had come to pay their respects 
to her, she could not refrain from laughing at them 
behind her fan. This naturally enough gave great 
oifence to these antiquated dowagers, who vowed the 
queen had mocked at them, that she had not a proper 
respect for age, and was utterly wanting in propriety. 
The name of " moqiceuse " was given to her in conse- 

The young queen, with the full sanction of her hus- 

* " llistoirc de Marie- Antoinette," par E. et J. de Goncourt, pp. 
31), 102. 

t " ]\lt'moirs of ^Marie- Antoinette," by Madame Carapan, vol. i. 


band, went early one morning to see the sun rise from 
the highest point of Marly gardens — a harmless enough 
proceeding, one would think, but which nevertheless 
gave rise to most disgraceful calumnies. On another 
occasion she displayed her skill as a charioteer, by 
driving about Marly in a cabriolet, preceded merely by 
a single officer of the king's body-guard. This spectacle 
astonished the old courtiers, who had never seen a queen 
handle the reins before, and who therefore pronounced 
the proceeding highly unbecoming, if not, indeed, im- 

Jlarie- Antoinette, who was fond of dancing, organized 
a series of fancy dress balls in the Salle^e Comedie at 
Versailles, into the spirit of which her brothers-in-law 
and their young wives entered most heartily. Being 
herself a good dancer, she was glad to secure good 
dancers for these entertainments, but had to undergo no 
end of reproaches because she, a young queen of twenty 
years of age, had appealed to the minister of war to 
grant leave of absence to certain officers, favourites at 
these fetes, who had been ordered to rejoin their regi- 
ments. Everything she did was wrong. She was con- 
demned for being present at the summer night prome- 
nades on the terrace of the chateau of Versailles, then 
open to the general public, when, attired in a plain white 
cambric dress and a simple straw hat, she and Madame 
Elisabeth, and perhaps her married sisters-in-law, would 
mix unobserved among the crowd, or, seated on a bench, 


would listen to the music performed by the king's 
guards; watching and commenting meanwhile on the 
secret flirtations which under cover of the night were 
carried on on these occasions. 

The foregoing incidents seem to have been harmless 
enough, but the same can hardly be said of her excur- 
sions to the lals de Vopera, when " lost in their vortex, she 
was happy or trembling imder her mask," and whither 
she would resort attended merely by a single lady of 
the court and with her servants in undress grey liveries. 
On one of these occasions her carriage broke down, and 
she was obliged to have recourse to a public vehicle. 
On entering the theatre she is reported to have ex- 
claimed to her friends, " It is I, come in ajiacre ! Isn't 
it droll?" One can well conceive an incident like 
this giving rise to much unpleasant scandal, and can 
sympathise in the reproaches which her brother the 
Emperor Joseph addressed to her on her freqnent 
presence at these entertainments. 

It was the misfortune of Marie-Antoinette to have 
made for herself a hcst of enemies almost from the very 
first day she was called upon to share a throne. Among 
others, of her brother-in-law, the Count de Provence, 
who, attached to her at the outset of her career, took 
to quizzing her, and criticising lier conduct, and even to 
caricaturing her, while preserving an outward appear- 
ance of friendship towards her, soon after she became 
a queen. Tlie Prince de Conde, allied to the Cardinal de 


Eohan by marriage, was embittered against her because 
she very properiy declined to receive his mistress, 
Madame de Monaco, at court. A warm friendship had 
sprung up between Marie-Antoinette and the young 
Duke de Chartres, afterwards Orleans Egalite, on her 
first arrival in France ; but after a time, Louis XVI., 
who disliked the duke, and made a point of insulting 
his friends whenever he got the chance, availed himself 
of the duke's known immorality to forbid the queen 
associating with him on the same familiar terms as 
heretofore. The consequence was, the duke, who was 
unaware of the real cause of his disgrace, conceived a 
strong dislike for the queen, who on her part retaliated 
by saying many spiteful things respecting him. Dislike 
grew into hatred, and hatred grew bitter and more 
bitter, until at last the duke pursued Marie- Antoinette 
with a relentless vengeance that was positively diabolic, 
and which only terminated with her life. Dissolute old 
De Maurepas, prime minister, and all his kin, and more 
particularly his nephew, the Duke d'Aiguillon, a former 
creature of the Dabarry's, and now a creature of the 
Duke d'0rl6ans, and whose disgrace at court had been 
brought about by the queen's influence, were arrayed 
against her on account of the persistent exertions she 
made to get her favourite, De Choiseul — ^whom Cathe- 
rine of Russia used to style the coachman of Europe, as 
when in power he directed all the cabinets — appointed 
prime minister in De Maurepas' stead. M, de Ver- 


gennes too, whose handsome Greek wife the queen 
would not consent to receive, cherished a steady hatred 
of her — all the more dangerous because it was con- 
cealed — and even wrote regular reports respecting her 
to Louis XVI., which the king kept secret, and which 
only came to light on the discovery of the famous 
" armoire defer'' in the wall of the royal closet in the 
Tuileries, a few months before the king's death. 

At tlie head of the enemies the queen had succeeded 
in making among her own sex were, Mesdames Adelaide 
and Louise, two of the king's aunts, the former of whom 
had for a while exercised a certain control over her 
nephew, and was now jealous and irritated beyond 
measure at the influence which the young queen had 
acquired over her husband. Since their exile to Lor- 
raine, however, these old ladies had been comparatively 
powerless for mischief. A far more dangerous enemy of 
the queen was the stiff old Countess de Marsan, herself 
a Eolian, and cousin of the cardinal, for whom in past 
years she had secured the post of grand almoner, who 
during the late reign had been governess to the king's 
grandchildren, and who had been from the very first 
greatly scandalized at Marie-Antoinette's freedom of 
manners : the dauphiness's most innocent acts being mag* 
nified by this old prude into crimes. . If she glanced at 
any one it was set down to coquetry ; if she chanced to 
laugh, it was either unbecoming, or else her gaiety was 
all forced ; if she wore her hair loose she was compared 


to a bacchante ; and even lier simple white muslin 
dresses were pronounced to be stage costumes, worn 
solely to create an effect. The Duchess de Noailles, 
who had been Marie- Antoinette's chief lady of honour 
from the moment of her arrival in France, and Madame 
de Cosse, her lady of the bedchamber, threw up their 
posts on the Princess de Lamballe being appointed 
mistress of the queen's household, and both enlisted 
themselves among the malcontents, which comprised, 
in addition to those we have already mentioned, the 
powerful families of Conti, Montmorency, Clermont- 
Tonnerre, La Rochefoucauld, and Crillon. 




The enemies of the queen at the moment the Necklace 
scandal burst upon the public were many and formid- 
able ; the real friends that she had capable of defending 
her were but few. The Baron de Breteuil was well 
enough disposed towards her, still it was not so much 
the shielding of the queen's reputation as compassing 
the downfall of his enemy, the Cardinal de Bohan, that 
he had at heart. The Abbe de Vermond, who had 
been Marie- Antoinette's instructor, and was now a sort 
of secretary to her, had only his fidelity to recommend 
him. He could influence the queen, but wanted the 
head to direct her wisely. Specious M. de Calonne 
was too busy raising new loans to supply a continually 
emptying royal exchequer to trouble himself about 
necklaces or cardinals ; besides, no particular friendship 
existed now between the queen and him. He no longer 
gallantly told her that if what she required was simply 
difficult it was already done, and if it was impossible, 
that it should bo done. Tho Duke de Choiseul had 

THE queen's brothers- AND SISTERS-IN-LAW. 301 

been dead these several months past. Those intimate 
friends of Marie -Antoinette's with whom her daily life 
was cliiefly spent, and who formed what was styled her 
society, shared her unpopularity to some extent, for it 
was the favours heaped upon certain members of the 
Trianon set which had estranged so many of the old 
nobility from her. Moreover, with the exception of the 
Count d'Artois and the Duke de Coigny, there was not 
a man of influence among them who could do her real 
service in the hour of need. 

The habitues of Little Trianon — " the queen's society," 
as they were styled — comprised, first, her youngest 
brother-in-law, the Count d'Artois, who danced with 
her, hunted with her, acted with her, and entered 
generally into the spirit of her amusements ; then there 
was his wife, the countess, exceedingly short of stature, 
with a complexion as fresh as a rose, and a prepos- 
sessing if not a pretty face, yet with a nose which, as 
Marie-Antoinette wickedly remarked, had never been 
finislied; at one time, too, there were the Count and 
Countess de Provence, the latter an elder sister of 
the Countess d'Artois, and the reverse of good-looking. 
liouis XVI. in his blunt way once told his brother that 
his wife was by no means handsome, to which the Count 
de Provence quietly replied, " Sire, I find her to my taste, 
and that is quite sufficient."* Then there was the 

* " Les devniers jours de Trianon," par M. Capefigue, p. 25. 


queen's sister-in-law, Madame Elisabeth, her true and 
loving friend until death ; next there were the Polignacs, 
foremost among whom was the Countess Jules, the 
queen's most particular favourite, who was very hand- 
some, with ex})ressive blue eyes, a ravishing mouth, 
beautiful small M'hite teeth, a nose just a trifle retrousse^ 
a forehead perhaps a little too lugh, magnificent brown 
hair, a skin almost as white as alabaster, low shoulders 
and a well set neck which seemed to give height to 
her small figure. A touching sweetness formed the 
foundation of her physiognomy — looks, features, smiles, 
everything with her partook of the angehc. She had, 
moreover, wit and grace, and a natural ease and abcM- 
don wliich were positively charming. Negligence was 
her coquetry, dishabille her full dress. It has been 
said of her that she never looked better than when in 
a loose morning gown, and with a simple rose, perhaps, 
in her hair. When the queen first took notice of her, 
she and her husband, with their two young children, 
were living in a very humble style (we have heard what 
Madame de la Motte had ,to say of her poverty)* on a 
miserable income of three hundred and twenty pounds a 
year. A pension of six thousand francs was immediately 
granted her, and ere long she was appointed governess of 
the royal children, with a salary of fifty thousand francs^ 
and her husband named postmaster-general, and master 

* 5ee ante, p. 77. 


of the horse to the queen, with a salary of eighty thousand 
francs ; in addition to which a joint pension of eighty 
thousand francs was conferred upon them, besides other 
considerable emoluments which brought their income 
almost up to three hundred thousand francs.* The 
count, who through the influence of the queen had 
been raised to the dignity of a duke, seems to have 
been an amiable sort of man, very generally liked, for 
he had not allowed his good fortune to spoil him. His 
sister, the Countess Diane, one of Madame Elisabeth's 
ladies of honour, was given, we are told, to gallantry 
and intrigue ; her son by the Marquis d'Autichamp — 
the same wicked rake who was so anxious to escort 
Madame de la Motte from Luneville to Paris — entered 
the Kussian service, and was killed at the battle of 
Austerlitz.| Her personal appearance was the very 
reverse of engaging. She was compared to a brown 
owl (she was a southern brunette), with all its feathers 
in disorder, and to a paroquet, with a crooked beak and 
round eyes'surrounded by dark circles.^ Nevertheless, 
she had only to open her mouth to have face, form, 
toilette, the little she had received from nature, and the 
little she herself did to render herself pretty, entirely 
forgotten. It was impossible to know her and not to be 

* " Weber's Memoirs of Marie- Antoinette," vol. ii. p. 263. 

t " Lettres et Documents In^dits de Louis XVI. et Marie- 
Antoinette," par M. Feuillet de Conches, vol. iii. p. 318. 

t " Souvenirs de la Marquise de Crequi," par le Comte do 


prepossessed in her favonr. Her arch way of lookmg 
a subject, her piquant turn of thought, which was 
abnoat epigrammatic, her sudden changes &om gaietj 
to sadness, from irony to sensibility, her audacity, which 
nothing could intimidate, her daring and contagious 
recklessness, made her a general fayourite in the society 
over which she to some extent dominated. A woman 
like her was invaluable to a court already depressed 
with melancholy, to put life into the conversation, to 
dissipate dull thoughts, to defy alarm, to prophesy fine 
weather, and display a perfect disregard for the 

The young Princess de Lamballe, one of the earliest 
friends Marie- Antoinette made in France, ranked next 
to the Countess Jules de Polignac in her favour. Ex- 
tremely beautiful, as amiable as she was handsome, 
and left a widow when she was only eighteen — ^her 
husband, son of the old Duke de Penthievre, who received 
Madame de la Motte so courteously at Chateau-Villain, 
having fallen a victim to early debauchery — a peculiar 
interest attached to her. A native of the sunny south, 
she nevertlicless possessed all the northern gi*aces. The 
Hwoct serenity of her countenance was its great charm : 
th(jre was tranquillity even in the flash of her eye. On 
li;;r beautiful forehead, shaded by her long fair hair, not 
a (jloud, not a trace existed of the early grief she had 
b(;en called upon to suffer. Her mind had all the serene 
beauty of lier face. She was gentle, affectionate, full of 


caresses, always just, always ready to make sacrifices, de- 
voted even in trifles, and disinterested above everything. 
No one occupied a more prominent position in the 
queen's society at Little Trianon than the Baron de 
Besenval, a handsome-looking man past the middle age 
of life, tall and well proportioned, with sharply-defined 
profile and large well-formed nose, quick, intelligent 
eye, and small mouth curled up in a mocking and 
disdainful pout Of cultivated tastes, full of insolent 
gi^aee, perfectly content with himself and ever ready to 
laugh at others, pleasure was the sole pursuit of his life 
until the death of Louis XV. brought him into closer 
contact with the Count d'Artois, colonel-general of the 
Swiss guards, in which corps Besenval, himself a Swiss, 
held a command. Of the count he made a friend, got 
presented through his influence to the queen, whose 
confidence he secured and whom he almost directed; 
was appointed lieutenant-general of the army, grand 
cross commander of St. Louis, and inspector-general of 
the Swiss guards, without seeming at all astonished 
at his good fortune. In the hour of danger, however, 
he was found singularly wanting, and it was soon evi- 
dent that he was not the man to save the monarchy 
or stem the tide of revolution. His conduct while in 
command of the army of Paris has been very generally 
and deservedly condemned. 

M. de Vaulreuil was another prominent member of 
the Trianon coterie, who, entering early in life the highest 
VOL. I. X 


and most exclusive society of Veisailles, had come 
to the conclusion that human nature, as it was to be 
found in courts, was neither so very beautiful nor so 
very great as was commonly represented. Intellect 
chaimed him, and above all that intellect which 
sparkled with wit. He was the friend of all clever 
men, spoke but rarely himself, but would lie in wait 
behind the hubbub of the talkers and suddenly dis- 
charge his arrow right at the mark. What made him 
a favourite with the queen was the fact of his being the 
best private actor of his day. When young he had 
been remarkably handsome, but the smaU-pox had de- 
stroyed his good looks. Suffering from disease of the 
lungs, and subject to nervous twitchings of the body 
and to frequent fits of depression, he had all the im- 
munities of a sick person accorded him. The good 
nature of the Duchess de Polignac and the indulgence 
of his friends caused them to tolerate his caprices and 
whims. His disposition changed daily according to his 
bodily ailments ; still he was not without certain vigorous 
virtues, for he was noble, generous, frank, loyal, and a 
devoted and constant friend. 

Next on the list of the queen's favourites comes 
M. d'Adhemar, whose musical skill and admirable voice 
had procured him the applause of the master of the 
king's music. He wrote verses and songs, acted well, 
and accompanied himself on the harpsichord. His was 
but a little ujiud ; nevertheless, under a guise of modesty 


and humility he nourished grand schemes of ambition, 
and eventually succeeded in securing for himself the 
English embassy, in connection with which we shall 
hear of him again. His complaisance was proverbial ; he 
courted every one, offended no one, made innocent jokes 
in an undertone of voice, and never lost his temper. It 
will be understood what manner of man he was when we 
remark, that the women spoke to him when they had 
nothing to say, the men when they had nothing to do. 

The remaining hahitues of Little Trianon were the 
three Coignys : the Duke de Coigny, the queen's most 
constant friend, whom the Trianon set desired to make 
her lover, which the Duke d'Orleans maintained he 
already was — styling the young dauphin *'Le fits de 
Coigny;''* the Count de Coigny, a big, good-tempered 
man ; and the Chevalier de Coigny, an agreeable flat- 
terer, whom all the women strove to secure to them- 
selves, and who was a favourite wherever he went ; the 
Duke de Guines, the " Versailles Journal," as he was 
styled, who knew and repeated all the scandal of 
the court, ridiculed everybody, and was consequently 
disliked by everybody, was an excellent musician, and 
prided himself immensely on having played the flute 
with the great Frederick; the Prince d'Henin, a phi- 
lanthropist, at court like a fish out of water ; the Bailli 
du Crussol, who made jokes with a most serious air ; 

* " Louis XVL," par Alexandre Dumas, vol. iii. p. 167. 


the Count de Polastron, who played the violin in a 
ravishing style, and his pale and languishing wife — ^the 
amiable "Goddess of Melancholy," as she was called; 
the Count and Countess de Chalons; the Count and 
Countess d'Andlau ; the sensible, witty, and good-natured 
JIadame de Coigny; the Duke de Guiche, captain of 
the king's guards, and his young and lovely duchess, 
daughter of the Duchess Jules de Polignac* Besides 
the' foregouig, there were a few distinguished foreigners, 
such as Prince Esterhazy, the Prince de Ligne, the 
Count de Fcrsen, a prominent member of the Swedish 
aristocracy, who was styled by the women the " Beau 
Fersen," and who in subsequent years drove the 
berline in which the royal family sought to escape 
from France, and eventually lost his life in an dmeute 
at Stockholm in the year 1810; and the Baron de 
Stedingk, the intimate friend of Fersen and a great 
favourite with Marie-Antoinette, who said to him, on 
parting with him in 1787 : " Eemember, M. de 
Stedingk, that under no circumstances can any harm 
happen to you;"t implying that her influence, which 
she believed to be paramount, would be exercised for his 
protection in whatever quarter of the world he might 
chance to be, and little dreaming that in a very few 

* ** His I oi re de Marie- Antoinette," par E. et J. de Gonoonrt. 
Most of the foregoing particulars respecting the queen's society at 
Little Trianon have been derived from this work. 

t " Mcmuires Posthumes du Feld-Mar^chal Comte de Stedingk," 
vol. iii. pp. 17, 74. 


years there would not be another woman in all France 
so powerless as she. 

Having made acquaintance with the queen's society 
at Trianon, let us now see what Trianon itself was 
like ; that Little Trianon to which Marie- Antoinette 
retired to escape the splendours, the restraints, the 
intrigues, and, most of all, the slanders of the couii, 
and enjoy the society of friends of her own choosing ; a 
retirement which unhappily gave rise to new calumnies 
— calumnies wliich it does not seem in nature fot one 
woman to invent or propagate of another, but which 
Madame de la Motte more than insinuates in her lying 
" Mdmoires Justificatifs," and which have outlived the 
other hideous slanders of which Marie-Antoinette was 
the victim ; that Little Trianon, where Madame de la 
Motte asserts most of her pretended interviews with 
the queen took place, and where she affirms Marie- 
Antoinette was accustomed to receive the Cardinal 
de Eohan, who, according to the countess's statements, 
would come late at night disguised as a valet, and 
spend hour after hour with the queen in a small 
pavilion in the gardens while she remained outside 
on the watch.* On one occasion the Cardinal de Eohan 
certainly did go to Little Trianon, and in a partial 
disguise, but it was by bribing the gatekeeper that he 
gained admission to the grounds. It was at the time 

* "Life of the Countess de la Motte," by herself, vol. i. p. 312, 
et seq. 


when both building and gardens were brilliantly illu- 
minated in honour of the visit of the Grand Duke and 
Grand Duchess of Eussia, who were travelling about 
Europe under the titles of Count and Countess du 
Xord. The cardinal, w^ho professed great anxiety to 
sec these illuminations, promised the gatekeeper to 
remain in his lodge until all the company had left 
for Versailles ; instead of which, when the man's 
back was turned, he slunk into the gardens, and, 
with 'his cardinal's red stockings showing below his 
overcoat, took up the most prominent position he 
could select, where he waited for the royal family and 
its suite to pass. The queen saw him and recognised 
him, and next day gave orders for the instant dismissal 
of the gatekeeper; but Madame Campan, who had 
been informed of all the circumstances, appealed to 
Marie-Antoinette in the man's behalf, and succeeded in 
getting him retained in his post."* 

To console Marie- Antoinette for not having appointed 
her favourite, the Duke de Choiseul, prime minister, 
Louis XVI. is said to have given her the Little Trianon, 
which skirts the park of Versailles and adjoins the 
gardens of the Great Trianon, to do as she pleased 
with. " You love flowers," said he : " ah ! well, I have 
a bouquet for you — the Little Trianon." 

The repairing and embellishing of this miniature 

* " Memoirs of Marie- Antoinette," by Madame Campan, toL L 
p. 242. 


palace, the alteration and enlargement of its grounds, 
with a host of artists and gardeners subject to her sway, 
was for the next year or two Marie- Antoinette's greatest 
delight. The building, erected by the architect Gabriel 
for Louis XV., is of a square form, and each of its sides 
has a frontage of only seventy feet. It is in the Italian 
style, and its different facades are ornamented with 
Corinthian columns or pilasters and enriched friezes 
and cornices. The depraved old king in the last years 
of his life was enamoured with this " little corner of his 
grand Versailles." It was to his taste, for here he 
could live in retirement and at his ease. In addition 
to its flower garden, laid out in the formal French 
style, there was a botanical garden, which Louis XTV., 
at the time he lived at the Great Trianon, caused to 
be planted with exotic trees and shrubs of multifa- 
rious tints and perfumes then almost unknown in 

The principal entrance to Little Trianon leads imme- 
diately to the grand staircase with its handsome gilded 
balustrade, in the interlacings of which the initials 
M. A. are prominently displayed. Facing the landing, 
as if in menace, is a head of the Medusa, which proved 
powerless however to keep out scandal. After a small 
ante-chamber comes the saHe-d-manffer, decorated with 
paintings of the four seasons by Dejunne, and bathing 
and fishing subjects by Pater, and the re-joined parquet 
of which shows traces of the opening through which 


Loriot's flying table was accustomed to ascend at the 
orgies of Louis XV. In this apartment commence the 
ornaments upon the panelling— crossed quivers sur- 
mounted by wreaths of roses and garlands of flowers — 
executed by order of Marie-Antoinette. The little 
mlon hear the sdUe-a-manger displays in relief upon its 
sides emblems of the vintage and the attributes of the 
genius of comedy. Hanging from festoons of grapes 
are bunches and baskets of fruit, masks and tambour- 
ines, flutes and guitars, and beneath the marble beards 
of the goats that support the mantelpiece more bunches 
of grapes are entwined. At the four comers of the 
cornice of the grand salon are groups of cupids at play. 
Each panel, surmounted by the emblems of literature 
and the arts, springs from a stalk of triple flowering 
lilies, garlanded with laurel and with a wreath of full- 
blown roses by way of crest. Four paintings by Wattean 
— of those graceful Decameron-like subjects in which he 
excelled — are on the walls of this apartment. In the 
little cabinet which precedes the queen's bedchamber 
the finest arabesques run over the woodwork ; here are 
cupids bearing cornucopias overflowing with flowers, 
cooing doves, smoking tripods, and crossed bows and 
arrows hanging to ribbons. Bouquets of poppies inters 
mingled with thousands of small flowers, all most deli- 
cately rendered, are scattered over the panels of the 
bedroom ; the bed with its light blue silk liangings, 
the chairs and couches en suite, and the console tables. 


looking-glasses, clock and chandeliers being, it is said, 
much as they were in the days of Marie-Antoinette. 

The most elegant facade of the little palace, with its 
four fluted Corinthian columns and its four flights of 
steps in the form of an Italian terrace, looks over the 
French garden, with its flower beds of geometric shape 
and the flowers themselves planted in straight lines. 
In the centre of this garden, which is bordered by cool 
green arcades formed of trees clipped into shape, is a 
small pavilion with groups of cupids surmounting each 
of its four entrances. This was the summer dining- 
room of both Louis XV. and Marie- Antoinette. At the 
end of one of these leafy arcades is the theatre where 
the queen and her friends performed alike comedies 
and operas. Sculptured in high relief above the prin- 
cipal entrance is a cupid grasping a lyre and a crown of 
laurel, with torches, trumpets, and rolls of music lying 
at his feet. The interior decorations of the theatre are 
white and gold ; the orchestra stalls and fronts of the 
boxes are covered with blue velvet, the panels being 
decorated with cupids suspending garlands of flowers. 
On either side of the stage two gilded nymphs grace- 
fully twist themselves into candelabra, and above the 
curtain two other nymphs support the escutcheon of 
Marie- Antoinette. 

At the back and to the right of the little palace is 
the queen's production, the English garden as it is 
called, laid out with an absence of formality which 


almost rivals the productions of Nature's self. The 
waters apparently wind according to their own fancy, 
the trees and shrubs seem to have been sown at the 
will of the wind. Nearly a thousand varieties of trees, 
some among them being most rare, join their shade and 
mingle the different tints of their leaves, which vary 
from the lightest and deepest greens to dark purple 
and cherry red. The flowers appear to have been 
planted at hazard; the ground rises and falls at its 
will ; paths wind and go out of the way with provoking 
pertinacity ; stones have been converted into rocks, and 
small patches of grass made to resemble meadows. 

From a hillock in the midst of a thicket of roses, 
jasmine, and myrtle, rises a belvidere, from whence the 
queen was accustomed to take in a view of the whole 
of her domain. This octangular pavilion, with its four 
windows and its four doors, and its eight sphinxes 
crouching upon the steps, has repeated eight times 
over, in figures upon its skirtings and in emblems over 
its entrances, the allegory of the four seasons, carved 
by perhaps the cleverest chisel of the century. The 
interior is paved with coloured marbles, and coloured 
arabesques run along its walls, with more bows and 
arrows and quivers, more bouquets and garlands of 
flowers and musical instruments, together with cameos 
and cages hanging from ribbons, and little monkeys 
and squirrels that scratch the sides of a crystal vase 
or play witli the fishes. In the centre of the pavilion, 


a table, from which hang three rings, rests upon three 
claws of gilt bronze ; this is the table at which Marie- 
Antoinette breakfasted, for this belvidere was her morn- 
ing saUe-d-manffer. 

From here she could overlook her grotto and the 
group of artificial rocks ; the waterfall, and the trem- 
bling bridge thrown across the little torrent ; the lake, 
and, under the shade of the shrubs, the embarking and 
landing-places, with the galley dotted all over with 
JleurS'de-Us ; the temple of love open to all the winds, 
with its statue, by Bouchardon, of Cupid trying to 
trim for liimseK a bow out of the massive club of 
Hercules ; the groves that skirt the river's bank ; and, 
finally, at the most remote part of the garden — the 
background, so to speak, of the picture — the hamlet 
where Marie- Antoinette had the king disguised as a 
miller and the Count de Provence as a schoolmaster. 
Here are the little houses of the village nestled to- 
gether like members of one family. The queen's is the 
prettiest of them all, for it has vases filled with flowers, 
and grape-vines in front of it. On the opposite side 
of the lake, and near to the water's edge, is the white 
marble dairy, with its four goat's-head fountains, and 
close beside it, and near to a weeping willow planted 
by the queen's own hand, is the tower of Marlborough, 
so called from the nursery song which the young 
dauphin's honne used to sing to him. Nothing is 
wanting to this pretty village of the stage, neither the 


oiird's house nor that of the bailiff; nor the mill, with 
its uhcel which actually turns ; neither the farmhouse, 
with the stone troughs for the cattle, and the little 
barns to store away the com, nor the thatched roofe, 
the woolen balconies, the little diamond-paned windows, 
and tlio fliglits of steps at the sides of the cottages. 
3[arie-Ant()inette and Hubert Robert, the painter, had 
thought of everything, even of painting rents in the 
stonework, cracks in the plaster, with here and there 
beams and bricks jutting out of place, as if time would 
not wither with sufficient rapidity this pleasantry of a 

Sfarie- Antoinette put aside all regal authority at 
Trianon. Here she was no longer queen, but merely 
the mistress of the establishment, which was like an 
ordinary country-house, with its small retinue of ser- 
vants and all its unrestrained habits. When the qneen 
entered the salon, the ladies neither quitted the piano 
nor their embroidery-frames, nor the men their games 
at billiards or backgammon. The kirg would come to 
Trianon on foot, and unattended. The queen's guests 
arrived at two o'clock to dinner, and returned to Ver- 
sailles at midnight. IMarie-Antoinette's occnpations 
and amusements were exclusively those of a country 
life. Attired in a white muslin dress, a lace shawl, and 

* " Ilistoire de ^Tarie- Antoinette," par E. et J. do Gonconrt, to 
which interesting work we are indebted for the larger portion of the 
present chapter. 


a straw hat, she would run about the gardens, or visit 
her farm, where she would take her guests to drink her 
milk and eat her new-laid eggs. Or she would con- 
duct the king to a summer-house, where he could read 
his book undisturbed until she summoned him to a 
lunch on the grass; after which she would amuse 
herself by watching the milking of her cows, or with 
fishing in the lake, or, seated on a rustic seat, would 
occupy herself by winding up the distaff of some young 

Private theatricals were at this time in great favour 
with the queen, whose troupe comprised the Count 
d*Artois, M. de Vaudreuil, M. d'Adhdmar, the Duke and 
Duchess de Guiche, the Countess Diane de Polignac, 
and M. de Crussol : occasionally the Baron de Besenval, 
the Countess de Polastron, and Counts Esterhazy and de 
Coigny had parts assigned them. The Count de Pro- 
vence and liis wife considered these diversions beneath 
tlieir rank, and the king moreover disapproved of 
them. On one occasion, when the "Devin du Village" 
was being played, and the queen was singing an air in 
it with more than her accustomed taste, all at once a 
whistle was heard from the back of one of the boxes. 
JMarie-Antoinette soon perceived that it was from the 
king himself that this interruption proceeded. Advancing 
to the footlights, she bowed profoundly, and said, with a 
smile : " Sir, if you are dissatisfied with the performers 
you can leave, and your money will be returned to 


you."* She then resumerl her song, which she was per- 
mitted to finish without further interruption. Beau- 
morchais' comedy of the "Barbier de Seville," for 
which, Madame Campan tells us, Marie-Antoinette was 
studying her part at the time she made the disclosure 
to her of the conversation she had had with Bohmer 
respecting the Necklace, was the last piece performed 
by this aristocratic troupe. It was played on the 19th 
of August, 1785, the very day on which the CSountess 
de la Motte was lodged in the Bastille. 

♦ " Les demicrs jours de Trianon," pax M. Capefigue, p. 84.